South Pacific nations team up to push for travel bubble

This week, the Australia 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 become a reality.

The group’s objective is to forge collaboration and discussion between the national governments of the South Pacific and Australia, as well as relevant stakeholders throughout the region, and demonstrate there’s a strong appetite from the tourism industries for a South Pacific Travel Bubble.

Many countries and territories in the South Pacific are highly dependent on tourism, particularly from Australia and New Zealand, with an opening of borders likely the most effective way to reboot their respective economies.

The group emphasised that there have only been 88 cases of Covid-19 and zero deaths in New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Tahiti combined, and that they recognise any proposal for a reopening of international borders would require considerable planning and negotiation between various government bodies, along with strict control measures and enhanced health monitoring.

“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,” said Papua New Guinea Tourism Promotion Authority’s Andrew Cavallaro.

Tahiti Tourisme’s Caroline Brunel said the nations of the South Pacific have done an incredible job of flattening their respective Covid-19 curves.

“We want to work together to facilitate safe travel wherever we can, and the concept of an inclusive bubble is one that works,” she said.

“We are coming together to keep the conversation going, and to assist wherever we can to make a South Pacific Bubble a reality.”