SEOUL – South Korea is in talks with Singapore and Taiwan for travel bubble agreements that will allow group trips as early as July for fully vaccinated individuals. The announcement came from the South Korean Culture, Sports and Tourism Ministry on 9 June.
The travel bubble allows people to cross borders and travel freely within designated zones without being subjected to on-arrival quarantine. They must present a Covid vaccine certificate as well as a negative RT-PCR result obtained within 72 hours of the departure date, as well as take the PCR test and be confirmed negative upon arrival at the destination.
Under the proposal, the bubbles would be limited between Incheon airport and a designated airport in the second country. It would mark the first step in the recovery of South Korea’s tourism and airline markets, according to the South Korean Culture, Sports and Tourism Ministry.
The year-long pandemic crisis has devastated the tourism sector which is a significant driver of economic growth in Korea.
According to the South Korean Culture, Sports, and Tourism Ministry and the Transport Ministry, direct flights between travel bubble partners will be operated once or twice a week at first, with only group tours permitted.
When the situation allows, there will be plans to expand the scope of the travel scheme. South Korea also plans to launch air travel bubbles with Thailand, Guam and Saipan.
Vaccinated South Koreans can plan overseas vacation as agency-arranged tours will become possible as early as next month through travel bubble arrangements. With only certified package tours allowed in the first phase of the travel bubble scheme, these travellers are advised to adhere to the itinerary.
With the country hoping to reach herd immunity by November, travel bubbles are part of efforts to start bringing things back to normal. South Korea has reported 565 more cases of the coronavirus as of midnight Friday, bringing the total number to 147,422.
The mass vaccination programme in South Korea has started in late February. Today, some 11 million people, comprising 22 per cent of the population, have received their first shots of the Covid-19 vaccine.