Indonesia reopens more locations for Singapore travelers

Passengers await their domestic flight at Bali Ngurah Rai Airport in April of last year. (AP photo)

Jakarta: Indonesia has added Batam and Bintan to a travel corridor arrangement with Singapore that would allow foreign visitors to return to the resort islands for the first time during the pandemic, according to Tourism Minister Sandiaga Ono.

In a statement released on March 20 on the ministry’s website, Ono said that the tourist sites in Nongsa in Batam and Lajwi in Bintan will reopen on April 21, according to very strict health protocols.

Passengers will have to submit a negative PCR test before departure to prove they are free of Covid-19 infection and undergo another test upon arrival to confirm the result.

Ono said that a special travel visa may be issued to foreign visitors who qualify to join the program.

Southeast Asia’s largest economy has begun easing restrictions to stimulate the economy after gross domestic product shrank last year for the first time in two decades due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The outbreak has infected nearly 1.5 million Indonesians and killed nearly 40,000 people in the country, the worst in Southeast Asia. The corridor arrangement is second after Bali, which the minister said could reopen as soon as June.

Finance Minister Sri Moliani Indrawati said in a briefing on Tuesday that GDP could fall between 0.1% to 1% in the first quarter as prolonged restrictions hurt spending.

Ono said the number of visitors to Batam and Bintan abroad decreased by 86% last year, which reduced the income of catering and accommodation businesses in the area by 41%, adding that enough industrial workers will have to be vaccinated when the areas reopen.

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