Indonesia Reopens Batam, Bintan to Singaporean Visitors

A newly launched travel bubble grants quarantine-free entry to holidaymakers coming in by ferry.

An aerial view of villas at Banyan Tree Bintan, part of Bintan Resorts. (Photo: Chuttersnap/Unsplash)

The Indonesian government has just paved the way for the return of international tourists to Bintan and Batam, two of the most-visited isles in the Riau Archipelago. At an online press conference on Monday, Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Airlangga Hartarto announced the immediate launch of a localized travel bubble with Singapore, citing relatively high vaccination rates and the fact that the two islands remain at the lowest level of the country’s four-tier social distancing restrictions. “Batam and Bintan are already at level 1 and the situation is relatively under control,” he said. Airlangga explained that the new scheme was viable as the travel bubble “has limited entry and exit points and a [regional Covid-19] task force has been created.”

Visitors must go through Nongsapura in Batam and Bandar Bentan Telani ferry port—the main access point to Bintan Resorts, the 175-square-kilometer tourism enclave along the island’s northern shore. To be eligible, foreign travelers must have remained in Singapore for the previous 14 days, received at least two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine, and show proof of a negative result from a PCR test taken less than three days before arrival. Holidaymakers are also required to possess insurance coverage worth at least S$30,000 and use the PeduliLindungi and BluePass contact-tracing apps. Singaporeans will be granted visa-free access, but all other Singapore residents will need to apply for a tourist visa.

Singapore recently resumed ticket sales for its Vaccinated Travel Lanes following a month-long suspension that began just before Christmas. A one-way arrangement is currently in place for Indonesia, and now that Batam and Bintan have opened their doors to the Lion City, Singaporeans can cross the strait for a quarantine-free beachside vacation. Senior officials said the situation in Batam and Bintan would be evaluated every week; the travel bubble will be temporarily dropped in the event of a coronavirus surge.

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