South Korea mulls travel bubbles with Thailand, 2 other countries

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A family wearing masks to avoid the spread of the coronavirus disease arrive at Gimpo international airport in Seoul on May 1, 2020. (Reuters photo)

South Korea will seek travel bubble or selective border openings with Asian neighbours like Thailand, Taiwan and Vietnam where Covid-19 spread has been contained to aid tourism industries of respective countries.

According to multiple industry sources, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism recently convened a meeting to discuss ways to boost the sluggish travel industry. In the meeting, they reviewed a plan to form travel bubbles other select countries have been experimenting, Pulse reported.

Neighbouring countries Australia and New Zealand and Vietnam and Thailand have been testing out travel bubble arrangement or opening of borders to countries they consider safe from virus spread while remaining sealed to others. The idea is to extend mobility freedom within the bubble, while keeping entries from outside. People with the “immunity passport” would be exempt from mandatory 14-day quarantine upon entering the countries under agreement.

The tourism industry made the proposal and the ministry responded positively, said an official who had attended the meeting. The issue requires further discussions with the foreign and health ministries.

Key issues related to travel bubble and immunity passports will be included as agenda at the 6th National Tourism Policy Meeting.

Taiwan would be the first country that Korea can seek a travel bubble, while Vietnam and Thailand make other candidates, according to the sources. The two countries in exclusive travel bubble partnership will issue immunity passports that prove the travellers are free of Covid-19 to its citizens.

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