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June 22, 2020, 09.03 PM

JAKARTA, – An Indonesia-Malaysia travel bubble is being discussed and there is a strong interest in prioritizing North Sumatra’s Lake Toba and Aceh as destinations.

The Indonesia and Malaysia travel bubble would allow travel and free movement within the corridor. Those in the travel bubble will not be subject to self-isolation requirements.

Indonesia had earlier voiced its interest in establishing a travel bubble with China, South Korea, Japan, and Australia on June 12.

Read also: Indonesia to Establish Travel Bubble With Leading Partners

Coordinating Maritime Affairs and Investment Ministry’s Undersecretary for Tourism and Creative Economy Odo R.M. Manuhutu said that Indonesia would start with business travelers.

The Indonesia-Malaysia travel bubble could only be implemented once the North Sumatra province receives the green zone status in the coronavirus pandemic fight.

A province in Indonesia that have received the green zone status such as Aceh can be included in the Indonesia and Malaysia travel bubble plans.

Should the Indonesia and Malaysia Travel Bubble with Aceh come to fruition, Director of Malaysia Tourism – Medan, Hisham, said that a standard operating procedure (SOP) from the Aceh authorities would be needed.

Read also: Indonesian Tourism Ministry Turns to Games to Support Covid-19 Socialization Efforts

The availability of the SOP depends on whether the Aceh government is willing to forge a travel bubble with Malaysia.

“Between the two green zones, people would be able to travel, take vacations, or specifically undertake medical tourism in Malaysia. But, again, we are still waiting for the SOP [from Aceh],” said Hisham.

Lake Toba’s readiness

President Director of Lake Toba Tourism Authority Arie Prasetyo said that there are eight districts in Lake Toba that are considered green zones.

The bigger problem at hand is the Silangit Airport in the North Tapanuli District that has been given the yellow zone status.

Nonetheless, ASITA North Sumatra Branch Chairman Solahuddin Nasution stated that an Indonesia and Malaysia travel bubble with Lake Toba and Aceh will revive the tourism industry.

Read also: Bali Strives to Diversify Its Economy and Rely Less on Tourism

“I think travel agents who grasp the plans will grab the opportunity. We’ve had zero income for the past four months, so of course we’re excited and we cannot wait,” said Solahuddin.

Solahuddin also pointed out the readiness of airlines in supporting the Indonesia and Malaysia travel bubble.

Citing business reasons, Solahuddin said that airlines may be reluctant to initiate flights between the Indonesia and Malaysia travel bubble destinations if there are few passengers.

Read also: Airlines and Hotels in Indonesia Need 2 Years to Recover Post Pandemic

Chairman of the Indonesia Tourism Intellectuals Association Azril Azahari also voiced similar concerns.

Azril Azhari argued that a travel bubble should be about opening borders and creating a corridor with neighboring countries.

Thus, he said Indonesia’s other travel bubble plans with Japan and South Korea should be dropped. 

(Writer: Nicholas Ryan Aditya | Editor: Ni Luh Made Pertiwi F.)  


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