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Jakarta Post

Riau Islands to prepare health protocols amid 'travel corridor' talks with Singapore

  • Fadli

    The Jakarta Post

Batam, Riau Islands   /   Thu, August 27, 2020   /   06:03 pm
Riau Islands to prepare health protocols amid 'travel corridor' talks with Singapore Authorities conduct a medical check on one of 47 Indonesian migrant workers caught by Maritime Security Board personnel attempting to return from Malaysia via illegal routes in Nongsa waters in Batam, Riau Islands, on April 15. (Courtesy of Bakamla/via kompas.com)

Riau Islands is gearing up to implement stricter health measures across the province as the central government enters into discussions with Singapore on opening up a “travel corridor” between the two countries.

Governor Isdianto said the provincial administration would put its best effort into preparing necessary regulations to ensure the safety of travelers while visiting the province.

“It is necessary to implement strict health protocols if the talks eventually lead to something,” the governor told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

Riau Islands places second for foreign tourist arrivals in Indonesia after Bali. Last year, the province attracted 2.59 million international visitors, almost half of whom – 47 percent – were from Singapore.

Isdianto went on to say that he had handed over a request to the government to open its borders with Singapore to Coordinating Maritime Affairs and Investment Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan during the latter’s visit to Batam in July.

“I told him that we, especially the people, are longing for foreign tourists to come to our islands,” he said.

Read also: Singaporeans still advised to defer all travel abroad, minister says

Several areas often visited by foreign visitors, such as Batam, Bintan and Karimun, have been labelled as having a low COVID-19 risk.

Separately, Batam Mayor Muhammad Rudi said he had requested the Batam chapter of the Indonesian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) to lobby the Singapore government to open the border between the city and the neighboring country.

“If Singapore and Malaysia agree [to reopen their borders to us], we will immediately prepare to implement health protocols,” said Rudi.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi had a bilateral meeting on Tuesday with her Singaporean counterpart, Vivian Balakrishnan, to discuss several issues, including plans on the Travel Corridor Arrangement (TCA) for essential businesses.

The ministers agreed to assign their respective teams to start negotiations at the first opportunity. (dpk)