WB How Could the Pacific Restore International Travel?

Country

Papua New Guinea (PNG) and the Pacific Island Countries (PICs) are considering how they can restore international travel with the rest of the world. This report outlines three potential sequential phases of border entry policy in PNG and the PICs: 1. Establishing international travel for cohorts of specific types of travelers.. 2. COVID-19 safe travel corridors (‘travel bubbles’). 3. A ‘new normal’ – which could involve some combination of: (i) widely available vaccine(s) or treatment; (ii) accurate, rapid diagnostic and antibody testing; and (iii) fit-for-purpose tracing and health-surveillance capacity.

International arrivals to PNG and the PICs would not recover in any meaningful way until at least mid-2021. The nature of public support will need to shift from emergency relief to strategic measures to lay the foundations for a structural economic recovery, while continuing to support livelihoods and vulnerable households. Further work is needed to determine: (i) how regional governments can help restore traveler confidence on the demand side; and (ii) to what extent business hibernation should remain a key strategy in PNG and the PICs, considering that international arrivals may remain subdued for at least another nine months, and perhaps far longer.