Context: The Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania recently started what is being referred to as a ‘travel bubble’ to help put their economies back on track after COVID-19 lockdowns.

More about the news:

  • Such ‘travel bubbles’ are now being recommended to keep at least parts of the global economy afloat as the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted both international and domestic trade and travel since earlier this year.
  • Guidelines issued by these countries
    • In these three EU countries residents would be able to travel freely by rail, air, and sea without quarantine measures
    • Those wanting to enter this corridor from countries outside would first have to go into isolation for 14 days. 
    • To be able to freely travel in the zone, 
      • one should not have traveled outside the three countries in the past 14 days, 
      • should not be infected with coronavirus, and 
      • should not have come in contact with anyone who has been COVID-19 infected.
  • Estonia-Latvia-Lithuania, who have launched this measure, are 
    • Sparsely populated (Lithuania- 28 lakh, Latvia- 19.2 lakh, Estonia- 13.3 lakh people) and 
    • These countries have been fairly successful at managing the COVID-19 outbreak.

What is a travel bubble?

  • Creating a travel bubble involves reconnecting countries or states that have shown a good level of success in containing the COVID-19 pandemic domestically. 

Benefits of creating travel bubble:

  • Such a travel bubble would allow the members of the group to rekindle trade ties with each other, and kickstart sectors such as travel and tourism.
  • According to a report in The Economist, potential travel bubbles among better-performing countries worldwide would account for around 35 percent of the global GDP. 
  • Such travel bubbles are especially being favored by smaller countries, who are likely to benefit after being able to trade again with larger partners.

Where are other such bubbles expected to start?

  • Australia and New Zealand
    • Recently these countries reached an agreement to form a travel bubble between themselves once it becomes safe to operate flights between them.
    • Both have had success in suppressing the pandemic domestically
    • Once it opens, the trans-Tasman zone will allow travel without a quarantine period.
  • China and South Korea
    • These countries have also enjoyed success in containing the COVID-19 outbreak, have launched a fast track channel for business travelers.
  • In the US
    • Here travel bubbles are being suggested to group states who are faring well against the COVID-19.
    • However constitutional challenges are also being cited as a possible roadblock for such plans.

Baltic countries

  • These include countries of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, on the eastern shores of the Baltic Sea.


  • In 1991, their then popularly elected governments declared independence from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) with overwhelming support.
  • India and Baltic countries have historical connect and common linguistic roots. The cutting edge technology and innovation ecosystems of the Baltic countries complement India’s huge market and appetite for these technologies


Image Source: IE