Posted by : Posted on : 20-May-2020

Australia – New Zealand and Pacific Islands states in a “travel bubble” post Covid-19

In May this year, I became aware that politicians in New Zealand and Australia began discussing the possibility of opening up borders to each other, creating a travel corridor – or “travel bubble.”

Both countries almost completely shut their borders to air travel in March, causing a huge blow to their respective tourism industries.

Now, with New Zealand having claimed success in bringing COVID-19 under control and with a decrease in coronavirus cases in Australia, politicians are again talking to each other about a so called “bubble’ plan when borders can be opened.

In new developments, as reported today by Radio New Zealand, Australia has said it would back the inclusion of Fiji in a trans-Tasman travel bubble.

Australia's High Commissioner to Fiji, John Feakes, has said no timeline had been set as Canberra and Wellington had yet to finalise a bilateral agreement.

But he said Australia wanted Fiji in its bubble alongside New Zealand.

My initial reaction when I read about Fiji’s possible inclusion in the possible future travel arrangement was to feel concerned for the Solomon Islands own position, knowing the country is COVID-19 free and now suffering the loss of tourism,  I was heartened, however, by a report by  Joshua Mcdonald who wrote in today’s South China Morning Post that there are calls for Australia and New Zealand to allow their pacific neighbours into any “Trans Tasman bubble” to help kick start economic activity.

Putting aside any thoughts of regional politics that might have a bearing on the possible creation of a regional travel arrangement post Covid-19, I would hope to see the travel ideas presently being mooted take off.

Yours sincerely

Frank Short

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