Singapore–Bintan, Batam Travel Bubble Delayed Again

A rising infection rate in Indonesia’s Riau Islands means the arrangement may only start in August.

Sunset over the Singapore Strait, as seen from Bintan. (Photo: Wengang Zhai/Unsplash)

Lion City residents aching for a weekend beach holiday in Bintan or Batam will have to wait a little longer before they can cross the strait without quarantining at either end. The launch of a proposed travel corridor between Singapore and the two popular destinations in the nearby Riau Islands was initially planned for April 21, before being pushed back to May 7 and, according to some reports, June.

The target date has been revised several times as recent weeks have seen the rate of Covid-19 infections steadily increasing across the Indonesian province. As of May 3, statistics released by the Riau Islands’ government show that there are 681 active coronavirus cases in Batam and 443 on neighboring Bintan. Taken together, that is nearly three times the number of active cases in Singapore (401), of which the vast majority were imported and isolated on arrival.

Indonesian news agency Antara reported that Riau Islands Governor Ansar Ahmad had recently met with the Singaporean Consul General, who said it was possible the travel bubble could be implemented in August. Under the proposal, international travelers will only be able to stay within Bintan Resorts, a 18,000-hectare enclave on the northern shores of its namesake island, and the Nongsa area in Batam. Holidaymakers from Singapore will have to show negative result through a PCR test upon arrival, and vaccinated domestic travelers will also be allowed to enter these areas reserved for visitors from the Lion City.

While Indonesian tourism and foreign ministry officials are in ongoing discussions with their Singaporean counterparts about the scheme, Singapore’s government has not released any concrete details on the proposed travel corridor. It remains to be seen whether the arrangement will be subject to conditions similar to those laid out for the upcoming bubble with Hong Kong.

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