Hard luck for tourists planning Bali trip

bali indonesia

The Indonesian island of Bali has bowed to the inevitable and will remain closed to foreign tourists until the end of 2020. For months, local government officials have insisted Bali would reopen to overseas tourists on September 11. It began allowing domestic tourists to visit on July 31, Sydney Morning Herald has reported.

Earlier this month the Minister for Maritime and Investment Affairs Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan had supported the reopening, though he subsequently back-tracked.

Bali’s economy is heavily reliant on foreign tourists and has been smashed by the coronavirus pandemic with hotel occupancy rates dropping by up to 95%. The decision to keep the borders shut will be a significant further blow for the large number of people dependent on jobs in tourism, the Sydney Morning Herald report said.

Bali provincial Governor Wayan Koster issued a statement that acknowledged the pandemic’s hit to the economy: it contracted by 1.1% in the first quarter of 2020 and 10.9% in the second quarter.

He also highlighted the island’s relative success in combating the spread of the virus, with 4024 COVID-19 cases confirmed and 49 deaths.

Wayan said the reopening to domestic tourists had been successful thus far with “no increase in new cases of COVID-19, no new clusters of COVID-19 cases”.

He noted that “Australia, whose citizens travel the most to Bali, is only planning to allow its citizens to travel in 2021. Likewise, China, Korea, Japan, and countries in Europe”.