Concerns raised over Vanuatu ‘Tamtam Bubble’

A member of the Opposition has raised concerns over the opening of borders to travelers from COVID-19 free countries saying Vanuatu is not ready.

Responding to a Government announcement that it will set up a ‘Tamtam Bubble’ that will allow travel from countries free from COVID for 30 days, Member of Parliament Johtham Napat said Vanuatu does not have the capacity and resources to open its borders for tourism.

“Resources within the health sector and the facilities for testing are not sufficient,” said Mr Napat.

He expressed great worries over how COVID-19 cases in Australia continue to rise.

“Australia is a more advanced country than us, with enough resources to counter coronavirus. Still the cases continue to rise. Imagine if a case is found in Vanuatu. How are we going to deal with it?” he said.

He believes planning and risk analysis need to be undertaken before opening the borders.

In response, the Minister of Trade and Tourism, James Bule, said the Tamtam Bubble will start as a small window.

“Firstly, we will only open the borders to countries that have no cases of COVID, such as New Caledonia, Solomon Islands; and then New Zealand will slowly join. We are not thinking of opening up to every country,” the Minister said.

Minister Bule said the bubble will start with bilateral agreements between countries, and caution will be used when using applying the Tamtam Bubble to potential travelers.

At the moment COVID-19 protocols for the bubble are not yet finalised but the Minister said they will be ready before the borders open.

The Council of Ministers has approved the Tamtam Bubble move to reopen Vanuatu’s border in September.

Vanuatu closed its border to overseas travelers in late March.

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