Kerala launches ‘Bio-Bubble’ model for safe tourism

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Kerala has launched the so-called “bio-bubble model” to create protective layers of mostly-vaccinated service providers to receive and host tourists, having opened up key spots to soften the blow to millions dependent on tourism for a living.

“God’s own country” had been forced to impose curbs periodically on tourist places since early 2020 to contain the pandemic. Consequently, arrivals of both the domestic and foreign tourists dropped by over 70% on year in 2020 and revenue from tourism crashed by 76% to just Rs 11,000 crore. The tourism sector employs about 1.5 million people and accounts for as much as 11.5% of the state’s GDP.

Bio-bubbles are typically sanitised and safe environments, where people, who will likely come into contact with tourists, are inoculated. So, tourists landing in any airport in Kerala get to meet only vaccinated ground staff. From the airport, they can travel in cabs with vaccinated drivers. Similarly, staff of hotels, resorts or homestays, where the tourists will put up, are fully inoculated as well, according to a statement by the state’s tourism department.

As for tourists, only those who have had at least the first dose of the Covid-19 jab, or possessing a negative RTPCR test certificate taken before 72 hours of reaching the state, are now being allowed. “The bio-bubble initiative is meant to ensure that the tourists have a risk-free stay in our state. This is a critical factor for the revival of tourism, which has been clobbered by the pandemic,” said PA Mohamed Riyas, the state’s tourism minister.

Having weathered the first wave with success, Kerala has, in recent months, seen a spike in Covid-19 cases. It accounted for over half of India’s Covid cases over the last seven days, the central government said last week.

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