The Indonesian holiday island of Bali will welcome back international tourists as of next month despite fears that the nation is on the brink of another outbreak.
Closed to most international visitors since last year, Bali, along with the rest of Indonesia will be reopened to visitors as part of moves to kickstart the nation’s 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”.
The statement continued “in preparation, the government has carried out a widespread vaccination program for targeted groups, including the tourism workforce.
“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, attended by about 200 countries, both in Dubai and virtually.
Indonesia’s Deputy Minister for Tourism Marketing, Nia Niscaya explained “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.”
This isn’t the first time tourism-starved Bali has attempted to reopen to international visitors.
Plans to welcome back overseas arrivals in September last year 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% of which depends on tourism.
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.
However, 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.
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.
Indonesia has been the worst-hit Southeast Asian country during the pandemic, with more than 1.7 million confirmed cases and 48,000 deaths.
Image: Bali's famous Kuta Beach.
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