‘Island of gods’ Bali reopens to the world, puts strict COVID curbs in place
- Bali, a resort island in Indonesia, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world
- Before the pandemic, over 6 million people from around the globe visited the Indonesian island
- Indonesia has put in place strict rules for tourists visiting the country
Bali, the Indonesian resort island which is a favourite among tourists across the world, is finally reopening after more than a year. On Thursday, the Indonesian island officially announced the reopening of its white-sand beaches for people who are fully-vaccinated against COVID-19, test negative for the virus, hail from certain countries, quarantine and follow restrictions in public.
Coming out of an extended period of restrictions in tourism, Bali hopes that reopening will enable it to restart its tourism-dependent economy. But international travellers may be slow to arrive. No international flights are scheduled for Bali on the first day of its reopening. A tourism official told The Associated Press that they expect travel to pick up from November.
For now, Bali has decided to allow foreigners from 19 countries to visit. The countries have been selected based on World Health Organization’s criteria such as nations which have managed to keep their COVID-19 caseload under control, according to Lahut Binsar Pandjaitan, the Indonesian government minister leading the COVID-19 response in Java and Bali.
The minister issued a statement saying all international flight passengers must have evidence that they have been vaccinated twice, test negative upon arrival in Bali and undergo a five-day quarantine at designated hotels at their own expense. Further, tourists will also be required to strictly follow pandemic-related rules at hotels, restaurants and on beaches.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo said that Bali’s high vaccination rate led to the decision to reopen the island. COVID-19 cases in India have declined considerably and Indonesia reported just 1,000 cases a day over the last week after peaking at around 56,000 cases daily in July.
Bali, the idyllic “island of the gods” is home to over four million people. Tourism is the island’s main source of income. Prior to the pandemic, more than 6 million foreign tourists would come to Bali every year. The pandemic changed all of that. Foreign tourist arrivals dropped six-fold, from 6.2 million in 2019 to only 1 million in 2020. Close to a 100,000 people lost their jobs and occupancy rate at the island’s hotel industry dropped to below 20%.