South Pacific Nations Want in On a Trans-Pacific “Travel Bubble”


There’s been a lot of talk about a Trans-Tasman Bubble, that would essentially see Australia and New Zealand open borders to one another for international holiday travel ahead of the rest of the world.

While there’s no official date set for the initiative to come into effect, there have been murmurs recently of a more concrete plan to kick things off as early as July. In more reliable announcements, we’ve heard September timings to be more accurate.

Now, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Tahiti tourism bodies are coming together to throw support behind including the South Pacific in a travel bubble, citing the positive impact that tourism from Australia and New Zealand brings to the region.

Here’s everything we know about the Trans-Tasman, and/or Trans-Pacific bubble so far.

Push for a Trans-Pacific bubble

In addition to New Zealand, it’s possible that a travel bubble would see Australians visiting Pacific Island nations. The Pacific region, including Fiji and Vanuatu, saw very few COVID cases and is eager to be involved in the exclusive travel plans.

Last week, Australia and New Zealand representatives of New Caledonia Tourism, Papua New Guinea Tourism Promotion Authority, Tourism Solomons and Tahiti Tourisme, formed a working group to help the proposed ‘South Pacific Travel Bubble’, or ‘Trans-Pacific Bubble’ become a reality.

Andrew Cavallaro, Australian and New Zealand market representative of the Papua New Guinea Tourism Promotion Authority, says: “Tourism is a vitally important source of employment and economic driver for our South Pacific neighbours, all of whom are heavily reliant on Australian and New Zealand visitors for their survival. We play a pivotal role in helping these Pacific islands find their feet again following the devastating impacts of COVID-19 and opening borders to establish a South Pacific bubble is undoubtedly the fastest and most effective means to helping them reboot.

“With the aim of prompting and quickly progressing these conversations at a government level, we have established a collaborative working group of South Pacific tourism boards to lobby for a South Pacific Bubble akin to the proposed Trans-Tasman Bubble currently being discussed.

“We hope that by submitting letters of endorsement to the Prime Ministers of Australia and New Zealand, and to both government’s Foreign Affairs and Pacific ministers, that consideration is given for a reopening of borders between Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific as soon as is safe and practicable.”

There have been only 88 cases of COVID-19 and zero deaths in New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Tahiti combined.

Jacinda Ardern and Scott Morrison are working on it

Both New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison, plus their relevant teams, have been in talks about the Trans-Tasman bubble.

On Wednesday, Arden said there was an eagerness from both parties to bring the initiative to fruition soon. “We are working to move on this as quickly as we can. We are both very keen on it… across both sides of the ditch,” she said, adding: “It won’t be too long before we are ready.”

Also working on the proposal is the Trans-Tasman Safe Border Group — an alliance co-ordinated by the Australia New Zealand Leadership Forum — made up of around 40 people from various government agencies, airports and airlines, health professionals and border agencies, according to The Guardian.

Aussies and Kiwis won’t have to quarantine

Scott Tasker, a co-chair of the Trans-Tasman Safe Border Group, said that there would be no requirement to quarantine for 14 days after arriving in either country. This is due to Australia and New Zealand’s commendable efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19.

“We are very fortunate to now be in a position where our governments can even contemplate the safe re-opening of the trans-Tasman border, for the benefit of our communities and economies.

“Our aim is to put forward a detailed set of recommendations that safely manage any health risks, while also allowing Kiwis and Australians to travel to each country without the need for a 14-day quarantine.”

Increased health and safety measures

Once the Trans-Tasman bubble takes effect, it’s likely there will be increased measures around health and hygiene to ensure those who moved between Australia and New Zealand would do so safely.

These may include pre-flight health requirements and eligibility, increased protections on airplanes, amendments to movement through airports, and contact tracing requirements once people enter their destination.

The Trans-Tasman bubble may commence in September

The Trans-Tasman Safe Border Group is said to be presenting a plan to both Australia and New Zealand governments next week, and should the blueprints be approved by both parties, the commencement of a Trans-Tasman bubble could start as soon as September.

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