Understanding the Latest Buzzword: Travel Bubble
Travel bubble, travel corridor, corona corridor are the latest positive buzzwords during this troubling time of the pandemic. But what are they, and why should we be excited about it?
What is a Travel Bubble?
More and more countries are adopting the travel bubble. Although we’re in the midst of fighting the coronavirus war, some states have opted to open their borders to selected low-risk countries. These countries are often surrounding or neighbouring countries that have proven themselves in the management of the pandemic and reduction in the daily incidence of cases.
Travel bubbles sometimes referred to as ‘travel corridors’ or ‘corona corridor’ is a partnership between two countries or more countries who have established mutual trust and respect with each other to allow their borders to be opened to one another. Imagine a snow globe merged with another snow globe. That’s how a travel bubble works; it’s sealed from all other entries and only has one exit, which is to the other country.
Is the travel bubble the future of travelling? A travel bubble gives citizens extended freedom and allows them to freely explore other countries who share the reciprocal arrangement. Opening up the borders also helps to re-establish connections to the outside world and help the affected economy to start rebuilding again. Not only that, but trade and other sectors will slowly begin to operate as well. The reciprocal relationship between countries lets people in without having to undergo the quarantine upon arrival.
Who is Doing It?
There are a few known travel bubbles around the globe, such as:
The Baltic Bubble
The pioneer in the travel corridor movement, Baltic countries like Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia formed a trilateral partnership and implemented the travel bubble on 15 May. Citizens who wish to travel can do so freely.
In late June, Germany, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, and Belgium opened its borders to the European Union and Britain. After that, the European Commission decided to end the travel ban on countries outside the bloc. Meaning, countries like Canada, Japan, South Korea and China will be allowed to travel to the aforementioned countries of the EU. Travel bubbles are said to be a sustained success as it only involves countries have proven to manage the crisis well.
France, Germany and the United States have established bilateral relationships with India in just the last week. Selected airlines will have already started operation under strict procedures. India has also made arrangements with the United Arab Emirates to fly back Indians citizens in the Gulf and vice versa from 12 to 26 July.
China and Korea
The two Asian powerhouses have regulated strict flying rules which involves their major cities such as Shanghai and Seoul. However, unlike other countries, China has made it mandatory for flyers to undergo the coronavirus test upon arrival. Travellers also have a quarantining period of two days and must do a blood test.
New Zealand and Australia had plans to administer the bubble; however, the agreement has been put on hold when Australia’s Victoria state was hit with the second wave of COVID-19.
South-East Asia Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore
discussed a possible sky bridge, to be implemented only if the state did not have any new cases in the last 28 days. Even New Zealand and Australia were considered, this was, of course, before the outbreak in Australia. On the other hand, Thailand’s government have a three-phased approach when it comes to the travel bubble. The first phase will allow low-risk countries travellers to enter certain cities such as Chiang Mai, Krabi, Phuket and Pattaya. The approach will begin the second phase if all else goes well and the country’s Covid-19 tolls are in control. The final step would be to lift the restrictions, which will allow travellers to explore Thailand in full.
What Does This Mean for Us?
When other countries put travel bubbles into practice, many exciting possibilities abound, not just in terms of travelling but for catalysing the affected economic progress along with other impacted sectors too. More countries choosing to open their borders which can only mean good news for all of us, as it signifies the recovery of global connectivity.