Australians could travel quarantine-free to countries across the Asia-Pacific within months after New Zealand re-opened the border with its trans-Tasman neighbour.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Tuesday she would welcome Australian travellers without the need for quarantine from April 19.
Her Australian counterpart Scott Morrison later said he was in ‘no position’ to say when the next two-way travel corridor would be opened.
But the federal government is already in talks to create more travel bubbles with other countries in the coming months – which could include Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Fiji and the Cook Islands.
Daily Mail Australia has listed below the countries Australians could soon visit if coronavirus vaccination rates increase and community transmission remains low.
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The Australian government is in talks to open a travel bubble with Singapore in the coming months
Singapore Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung this week said Australia – along with New Zealand and Brunei – were the front-runners to set up a travel bubble with the Asian country.
‘We are exploring with several countries and regions, including Australia, on the mutual recognition of vaccination certificates,’ he said.
‘The certificates can be physical or digital, and we will need them to be secure, tamper-proof and verifiable.’
Minister for Trade and Tourism Dan Tehan said last month the federal government had scheduled talks with Singaporean officials on the matter.
‘One of the keys is making sure that we can get that vaccine passport validated,’ he told the Today show.
‘That will enable that two-way travel to occur, hopefully without quarantining down the track.
‘What we need to do is get people moving again with the confidence to travel.’
The last major update on an Australia-Japan travel bubble was last October when Mr Morrison said the concept was still a long way from becoming reality.
‘Further afield, places like South Korea, Singapore and Japan, we have had good discussions with them but I think that is a bit further off,’ he said.
South Korea’s aviation industry is expected to benefit from plans to open travel bubbles with Covid-safe nations
‘We have to go cautiously on this, very, very cautiously. COVID-19 hasn’t gone anywhere. It’s still there, and it is no less aggressive today than it was six months ago.’
Japan is still recording high coronavirus transmission rates – confirming 2,458 new Covid-19 cases on April 5.
The Cook Islands
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has already confirmed she is in talks with the islands’ leader Mark Brown to set up a travel bubble in May.
That means an Australian equivalent with the south Pacific nation could also be on the horizon.
Pictured: Muri Beach in the Cook Islands. The Pacific nation is already in talks with New Zealand about potentially setting up a travel bubble
‘We are ready for business, and we are looking forward to the commencement in May,’ Mr Brown said.
The Cook Islands are Covid-free and Ms Ardern said Kiwis carried ‘a lot of responsibility’ not to import the virus there from New Zealand.
Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki said last month the country was planning to ‘push ahead with the signing of “travel bubble” agreements’.
The travel bubbles will run alongside sightseeing ‘flights to nowhere’ flights for travellers within South Korea.
The country’s aviation industry is expected to benefit from the plans after being hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Last month, South Korea’s number of new Covid-19 cases dropped below 500 a day – sparking hope its borders could soon open again.
Last month, the Pacific nation went 320 days without a community case of Covid-19.
New Zealand though has yet to open its borders to Fijians, despite Ms Ardern having already established a one-way travel bubble with the Cook Islands.
Japan is still recording high coronavirus transmission rates but Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in October said the concept was still a long way from becoming reality
Ms Ardern said she wanted to finalise requirements on QR codes, contact tracing and testing before opening a bubble with Fiji.
She said an expanded Australasian travel bubble could include Fiji later in 2021.
Despite having a population of just under 70million, Thailand has recorded fewer than 200 cases almost every day for the past month.
The country has maintained its low case numbers by closing its borders to nearly all foreign nationals during the pandemic.
The Thai government was originally hoping to fully open its borders in March 2021 but have still yet to establish bubbles with its geographical neighbours like Vietnam and Laos.