Government AffairsThe two Indonesian islands have outlined comprehensive plans in ensuring multiple safety checkpoints for tourists.

Batam and Bintan are ready for a two-way travel bubble with Singapore

Resort operators and tourism board members implore Singapore to establish quarantine-free travel both ways for Batam and Bintan.
Resort operators and tourism board members implore Singapore to establish quarantine-free travel both ways for Batam and Bintan. Photo Credit: Bintan Lagoon Resort

Indonesian government officials and hospitality operators in Batam and Bintan are in unanimity that they are ready for a bilateral travel bubble with Singapore.

Since Indonesia announced the Batam-Bintan-Singapore (BB-S) travel bubble on 24 January, the two holiday islands have been busy firming up its safety protocols and adding extra layers of safeguards for each step of a traveller's journey.

In a discussion forum hosted by the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy of the Republic of Indonesia on Tuesday, 8 February, tourism players based in Batam and Bintan detailed the specifics of the travel bubble, including the zones that have been delineated on each island to cater specifically to tourists, and step-by-step instructions on the travel procedures.

Every traveller that enters under the BB-S scheme will be allocated either the BluePass token (for Bintan) or asked to download the PeduliLindungi app (for Batam) that identifies them as a travel bubble tourist. There will also be “border controls” situated along the circumference of the designated zones to prevent cross-contact with others outside of the travel bubble arrangement.

According to Abdul Wahab, group general manager of Bintan Resort Cakrawala, Bintan Beach International Resort (BBIR) has an in-house lab that can process each arriving guest’s mandatory Covid-19 PCR test within an hour. Meanwhile visitors will be transported to their respective resorts as they await their PCR results.

At BBIR, Wahab states that 98% of its 5,000 staff are fully vaccinated, and the resort and its entire population of employees have been certified under CHSE Indonesia and CovSafeSG. In the circumstance that a positive Covid case is identified among its guests or staff, BBIR has its own quarantine facilities and emergency protocols to contain the virus.

Likewise, for Batam, chairman of Nongsa Sensation, Anddy Fong highlighted the many similar safety precautions that will be undertaken from the start of the visitor’s journey to the end, which include securely transporting guests from one resort to the next across Nongsa’s extensive grounds.

Currently, the BB-S travel bubble arrangement only allows travellers from Singapore to enjoy quarantine-free travel into Batam or Bintan, but they will be subjected to a seven-day stay-home notice (SHN) upon entry back to Singapore.

The discussion panel notes that this serves as a deterrence in attracting tourists to Batam and Bintan, and believes that the comprehensive set of Covid-19 risk mitigation protocols outlined by the respective hospitality providers in collaboration with the local authorities, can serve to facilitate two-way quarantine-free travel in a safe and calibrated manner.

Nia Niscaya, deputy of marketing, Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy of Indonesia, who headed the panel, revealed that within minutes of Indonesia’s initial announcement of the BB-S travel bubble, there was a surge in bookings. However due to the lack of clarity and the inability to operate their ferries to-and-from Singapore without approval from the Singapore government, the bookings were withdrawn and “gone with the wind”.

“We’ll keep marketing this programme to make Batam and Bintan the top-of-mind destinations for Singaporeans, but as a private sector, we cannot stand alone,” Niscaya said in conclusion to the forum. “We need G2G [government to government] processes, and we need industry clarity and conformity on the regulations of the travel bubble scheme which is not being reciprocated by Singapore.”

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