Government AffairsIndonesia proposes "safe travel corridor" for Singaporean tourists to the Riau Islands, while Malaysia and Singapore push mutual vaccine certificate recognition.

Bintan, Batam and Bali head to head with reopening

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Bintan Resorts
Indonesia's proposed Singapore-Batam-Bintan “safe travel corridor” set for 21 April, although this concept will only be open to Singapore tourists visiting Indonesia and not the other way round. Photo Credit: Facebook/BintanResorts

Discussion of travel corridors in Southeast Asia is gaining speed again, as the ministers of various ASEAN countries get together to look at easing bilateral travel restrictions.

Indonesia’s tourism minister Sandiaga Uno has proposed to launch the Singapore-Batam-Bintan “safe travel corridor” by 21 April, although this concept will only be open to Singapore tourists visiting Indonesia and not the other way round.

At a recent press event, Uno explained that the tourism and creative economy ministry is aimed at getting tourists from Singapore to visit Indonesia, rather than for Indonesian tourists to go abroad, The Straits Times reported.

The Nongsa area in Batam and Lagoi area in Bintan have long been popular resort destinations for Singaporeans. Two spots in Bintan and three in Batam — including a golf course for the latter — will be open and marked as Covid-safe for Singaporean tourists under this corridor plan.

While these areas will be sealed, Indonesian travellers who have been vaccinated and have proof of a negative Covid-19 test may also enter these spots.

If the Riau Islands travel corridor comes to fruition, this would put Batam and Bintan ahead of Bali's reopening plan, which is expected to reopen only in June or July.

"This is because Batam-Bintan are far more ready," Sandiaga was quoted as saying.

SGbubblesVivian Balakrishnan
Singapore's foreign minister Vivian Balakrishnan on 23 March shared photos of his diplomatic meet with Malaysia, concluding a mutual framework recognising each other's vaccine certifications for the eventual goal of cross-border travel. Photo Credit: Facebook/Vivian Balakrishnan

Meanwhile, Singapore foreign minister Vivian Balakrishnan and his Malaysian counterpart, Hishammuddin Hussein, revealed that the two countries are now working towards mutually recognising each other's vaccine certifications to progressively restore cross-border travel.

Restrictions are expected to be eased for those travelling on compassionate grounds in the months ahead, coming on top of the existing Reciprocal Green Lane arrangement and the Periodic Commuting Arrangement already in place between the two countries.

In a joint statement, Singapore and Malaysia committed to pushing forward their respective national Covid programmes to vaccinate long-term residents, including Singaporeans residing in Malaysia, and Malaysians in Singapore.

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