Indonesia’s Bali reopens to international tourists, lacks international flights


The Indonesian holiday island of Bali reopened to foreign tourists after an 18-month pandemic hiatus on Thursday, but the island lacks a crucial ingredient: international flights.

Tourism-dependent Bali is set to reopen on Thursday and although its Ngurah Rai International Airport has run simulations to prepare for the return of tourists, he doesn’t expect much to happen anytime soon.

“So far there is no timetable,” said Taufan Yudhistira, spokesperson for the airport.

Indonesia’s strict immigration measures during the pandemic devastated the island, with widespread closures of hotels, shops and businesses.

The government is eager to revive Bali’s beleaguered tourism industry in response to a sharp drop in new coronavirus cases since July, when Indonesia was the epicenter of Covid-19 in Asia.

But details on the reopening, such as visa requirements and the countries to which they apply, have so far been patchy.

Indonesia only confirmed the 19 eligible countries in a statement Wednesday evening, which include China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand, as well as several countries in Western Europe and the United States. Persian Gulf.

The move follows the calibrated reopening of Thailand which began in July with great fanfare, the islands of Samui and Phuket welcoming vaccinated tourists from several countries, with hundreds on days of ‘opening.

Vietnam plans to welcome foreigners to its Phu Quoc island next month.

But some representatives of the Indonesian tourism industry say the plan to reopen Bali does not match demand.

I Putu Astawa of the Bali Tourism Agency said hotel reservations were low.

“Not yet because the timing is so sudden,” he said, when asked about an increase in bookings. “They need time to deal with visas and flights.”

In addition to demanding that visitors to Bali be vaccinated against Covid-19, Indonesia has stipulated that they must spend their first five days in quarantine, a measure that rival tourist markets are gradually disappearing.

“We are ready to accept tourists who visit Bali, but that certainly does not mean that all the guests suddenly visit Bali,” said Ida Bagus Purwa Sidemen, executive director of the island’s hotels and restaurants association.

“At the earliest, by the end of the year, we can assess whether the situation has improved.”

In a video posted to the President’s Secretariat’s YouTube channel to mark the reopening on Thursday, Bali Gov. I Wayan Koster said boosting tourism was essential for the island.

“It is very much in our interest that tourism picks up because 54% of Bali’s economy is based on the tourism sector,” he said.

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