As countries around the World grapple with the idea of re-opening their borders for international travelers, two group in the Solomon Islands are pushing for an intra-regional travel bubble.

Travel Solomons and Solomon Airlines say there is merit in exploring the concept further, particularly for Covid-free countries in the region.

To date no cases of Covid-19 has been recorded in the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Samoa, Tonga, and Tuvalu.

Josefa Tuamoto, chief executive of Tourism Solomons says while Australia and New Zealand continue to explore options for a transtasman bubble, “we believe there is merit in forming a travel bubble of intra-regional Pacific nation groupings.”

In total the countries have a population of about 1.5 million, but the bubble would cover a vast area of the Pacific.

"An arrangement between Solomon Islands and Vanuatu for example, could help our countries in their preparedness before opening borders to larger leisure destinations," he said.

Brett Gebers, chief executive of Solomon Airlines said that as the national carrier and especially in the current climate it "must do our best to consider the needs of Solomon Islanders now and in the future."

"It is vitally important for communities and for the economy, that we help people to travel again with confidence, within the Solomon Islands and in the not too distant future, to and from international destinations," he said.

Solomon Islands tourism businesses in particular were hit hard by international border closures, however the country was one of the very few to remain Covid-19 free.

"That is a significant achievement and a credit to the Solomon Islands Government for putting the welfare of Solomon Islanders first. It is also a very positive and significant factor in future tourism development,'' said Gebers.

Gebers supported the concept of a Pacific Travel Bubble allowing quarantine-free movement between Covid-free countries within Micronesia, Melanesia and Polynesia.

"Travel bubbles, or travel bridges allow quarantine free movement of travellers from certain countries where the coronavirus has not occurred or has been contained.''

Solomon Times News Desk with