Singaporean planners may soon be able to begin booking corporate retreats to Bintan and Batam, as ministers from the respective countries get together to look at easing bilateral travel restrictions.
Indonesia’s tourism minister Sandiaga Uno proposed to launch the Singapore-Batam-Bintan “safe travel corridor” by 21 April, although this concept will only be open to Singapore travellers visiting Indonesia and not the other way round.
At a 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. During a 2020 fam trip in Bintan, Azis Mutaqin, a MICE and leisure travel industry professional and Indonesian Travel Agents Association (Astindo) member, said the island is one of Indonesia’s best MICE choices because of its international hotels, team-building facilities, F&B options, and the ability to “get back to nature".
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.
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.
In a joint statement, Singapore and Malaysia committed to pushing forward their respective national Covid-19 programmes to vaccinate long-term residents, including Singaporeans residing in Malaysia, and Malaysians in Singapore.
Source: Travel Weekly Asia