Asia Minute: Regional Travel Bubbles?

Jun 2, 2020

Governor David Ige says he’s “having discussions” about international air travel to Hawaii — including what he calls “safe travel corridors.” Those are also called “travel bubbles” which has become a buzz phrase for a growing number of locations in the Asia Pacific.

Australia and New Zealand have been talking about a “travel bubble” for more than a month. Japan is reportedly working on creating them with at least four countries. China has already used the strategy with South Korea, which allowed the Vice Chairman of Samsung to visit one of his company’s Chinese factories early last month.

The concept is a tightly controlled route for point-to-point flights — a way to crack open a travel market without throwing it open to passengers coming from locations still suffering a high volume of cases of COVID-19.

Testing is a part of it — a limited quarantine can be.

An advisory panel will soon report its recommendations on how such a plan would work between Australia and New Zealand.

Kyodo News reports the Japanese government is considering a limited travel exchange with Australia and New Zealand as well as with Thailand and Vietnam, which both have strong business ties with Japanese companies.

The Nikkei Asian Review reports in its Tuesday edition that Taiwan is developing a trial program with Stanford University. It would test 500 passengers in San Francisco, fly them to Taipei, and continue to test them — to see if the time of a quarantine could be safely reduced from 14 days.

The Nikkei quotes the Stanford medical professor leading the trial as saying that it’s also getting attention from authorities in Hawaii.