Australia’s favourite holiday island will welcome back international tourists next month despite the fears Indonesia is on the brink of another outbreak.
Bali, the land of Gods as it’s known, is the top drawer for any bucket list. It is exotic, full of culture, nature, and the food people travel long distance for. Unfortunately, it’s also been closed to most international visitors for quite a while.
One unlikely Aussie contender is being dubbed the ‘new Bali’ as travel restrictions keep Aussies holidaying within the country.
Indonesia has announced it will welcome international tourists back in weeks, including the holiday hot spot of Bali, as it seeks to kickstart its battered tourism industry.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo said the nation’s borders would be partially reopened in July, with the destinations of Bali, Batam and Bintan to become “locomotive regions” that will revive the tourism economy for the whole country.
A statement from the country’s tourism ministry said the plan would go ahead “if the pandemic is handled as well as expected”.
“In preparation, the government has carried out a widespread vaccination program for targeted groups, including the tourism workforce,” the statement said.
“In addition, the government has also initiated the Cleanliness, Health, Safety, and Environmental Sustainability certification program throughout the tourism sector in Indonesia.”
The announcement was made at Arabian Travel Market (ATM) Dubai 2021, a travel industry event attended by about 200 countries, both in Dubai and virtually.
“By participating in ATM Dubai 2021, outbound tourism’s leading global event, we are demonstrating that Indonesia is confident of maintaining its position as a world-class destination,” tourism marketing deputy minister Nia Niscaya said.
However, while Bali may reopen its borders to international arrivals, Australians will not be able to visit until the Federal Government overturns its overseas travel ban.
This isn’t the first time tourism-starved Bali has attempted to reopen to international visitors.
Plans to welcome back overseas arrivals in September were aborted due to ongoing travel bans and a local spike in Covid-19 cases.
The lack of tourists, particularly from Australia, has devastated Bali’s economy, 80 per cent of which depends on tourism.
Chilling accounts from inside the abandoned holiday island describe vacant resorts, shuttered businesses and the once-bustling Denpasar airport largely empty.
The island has enforced a range of measures to quell Covid-19 outbreaks, including mandatory masks in public, which is taken so seriously a social media influencer from Russia was recently deported for violating the rule in a supermarket.
But the news of Indonesia’s border reopening comes as experts warn the country is on the verge of another outbreak, perhaps fuelled by recent large gatherings for Eid al-Fitr, to mark the end of Ramadan last month.
This is happening right next door in Malaysia, where the government has announced a post-Eid total lockdown of the entire country as consecutive days of record infections catapulted its total caseload above 550,000.”
Indonesia has been the worst-hit Southeast Asian country during the pandemic, with more than 1.7 million confirmed cases and 48,000 deaths.
By Joe Cusmano