As the world grapples with the Corona pandemic, travel bubbles may be the way ahead to open international tourism
At a time when tourism, which was considered to be a growth engine of the new economy and a defining lifestyle statement, has reached a dead end courtesy the Coronavirus, here’s some solace from at least from one corner of the world. Ongoing talks between New Zealand and Australia to chalk out a plan to create a “travel bubble,” which would allow citizens of both nations to cross the 2,000-kilometre sea line, offer some hopes for recovery for this industry. Maybe create a template for the rest of the world. Agreed, it may take some time for tourists to start moving freely but a designated guided tour between two or microdots of “safe” countries may yet rescue a sector from dying. As the two countries work on the modalities to create the bubble, it must not be forgotten that this is a hard choice they have had to make. However, both nations have been way ahead in containing the pandemic — registering only one per cent growth in new cases — which is why they have been lucky enough to consider the option to open each other’s borders for their citizens. Besides, the two nations share the closest bilateral relationships in the world. With easier visa agreements, the flow of people, work-related or for pleasure, had been pretty smooth before all hell broke due to the spread of the pandemic. Heavily dependent as they remain on each other, with Australians making up almost 40 per cent of international arrivals to New Zealand and the latter making up for around 15 per cent of the former’s international visitors, they might just get a micro-economy going.
With Australia looking to double the pace of economic growth next year and a somewhat diluted form of recession in New Zealand, this would be a symbiotic relationship that has to be closely monitored in terms of disease control protocols. Moving too fast would mean not only a second wave of COVID-19 cases but a challenge laden with potential risks of new infections. With another country being involved in the mix, contact tracing would be even more difficult. From following stricter health protocols to tightening up airport rules and quarantine checks, a lot would be needed to restore confidence of travellers. Technology would have to be deployed to intensify the screening and tracking the movement of the each tourist. A bubble indeed that cannot be allowed to burst. India, too, over the course of time, can experiment with domestic bubbles between “safe, contiguous” territories.
(Courtesy: The Pioneer)