Firdia Lisnawati / AP
DENPASAR, Indonesia The Indonesian tourist island of Bali has reopened for international travelers to visit its shops and white sandy beaches for the first time in more than a year on Thursday if vaccinated, negative test, hail from certain locations , quarantine and respect the restrictions in public.
However, foreign visitors may be late to arrive. No international flights to Bali were scheduled on the first day of reopening and an official planned tourism trip would begin in November.
Bali Airport will welcome new foreign arrivals from 19 countries that meet World Health Organization criteria, such as controlling their COVID-19 cases, said in a statement Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, the government minister directing the response. COVID-19 in Java and Bali. late Wednesday.
He said all international flight passengers should have proof that they have been vaccinated twice, have a negative coronavirus test when they arrive in Bali and undergo a 5-day quarantine at designated hotels at their own expense. They will also have to follow strict rules in hotels, restaurants and beaches.
“We have to do this carefully because we have to stay vigilant,” Pandjaitan said.
President Joko Widodo praised Bali’s high vaccination rate for the decision to reopen. The workload of COVID-19 cases in the country has also dropped significantly; Indonesia had about 1,000 cases a day last week after reaching a peak of about 56,000 every day in July.
Tourism is the main source of income on the “idyllic island of the gods” which is home to more than 4 million people, who are predominantly Hindu in the predominantly Muslim archipelago nation. The tourist areas of Bali were abandoned two decades ago after visitors were frightened by deadly foreign-targeted terrorist attacks, but the island has worked to overcome that image.
More than 6 million foreigners arrived in Bali each year before the pandemic.
Foreign tourist arrivals dropped sixfold from 6.2 million in 2019 to just 1 million in 2020, while 92,000 people employed in tourism lost their jobs and the average occupancy rate of classified hotel rooms in Bali was below 20%. Indonesia data statistics showed that the island’s economy shrank 9.31% year-on-year last year.
After closing the island to all visitors at the start of the pandemic, Bali reopened to Indonesians from other parts of the country in the middle of last year. This helped the island’s gross domestic product grow by a modest 2.83% in the second quarter of this year, ending five consecutive quarters of contraction.
Firdia Lisnawati / AP
The July hike, fueled by the delta variant, again completely emptied the island’s beaches and normally noisy roads. Authorities restricted public activities, closed the airport and closed all shops, bars, restaurants, tourist attractions and many other places on the island. It reopened to local travelers in August.
Sang Putu Wibawa, general manager at the Tandjung Sari Hotel in Bali, said only two of his 40 rooms were moderately occupied and he hoped the reopening would help bring the occupancy rate back to normal.
“We have been waiting for this moment for so long,” he said. “This explosion has hit the local economy … we are very excited to welcome foreign guests in compliance with health protocols.”
Widodo said the decision to reopen Bali was based on the high rate of vaccination as well as the desire to revive its economy. He said more than 80% of Bali’s population has been fully vaccinated.
“Based on this situation, I am optimistic and we have decided to reopen international flights to Bali,” Widodo wrote on his official Instagram account on Saturday.
Overall, 59.4 million of Indonesia’s 270 million people are fully vaccinated and another 43.2 million are partially vaccinated. Indonesia has confirmed more than 4.2 million cases and 142,811 deaths from COVID-19, mostly in Southeast Asia.
Tourists from 19 countries are now able to visit the provinces of Bali and Riau, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, New Zealand, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, China, India, Japan, South Korea, Liechtenstein, Italy, France , Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Poland, Hungary and Norway.
Narrow weather is one reason why tourists were not arriving right away, said Putu Astawa, head of the Bali Tourism Office
Airlines need time to plan flights to Bali, while tourists need time to arrange travel documents such as tickets, insurance and virus tests, as well as their five-day quarantine accommodation.
He predicted that new visitors would start coming in early November.
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