Bali unlikely to open up to foreign tourists this year
Struggling to keep COVID-19 cases under control in Indonesia, tourism officials announced that all non-essential foreign visitors will be barred from entering the country till the end of the year, scrapping an earlier plan to open to international travellers on 11 September.
In July, much to many travellersâ delight, the country announced a âNew Era of Life Order Protocolâ with a three-phased reopening plan in favour of foreign visitors. As per the plan, the island was set to open to international visits on 11 September. On 14 August, however, Erick Thohir, chairman of Indonesiaâs National Economic and COVID-19 Recovery Committee, explained to The Jakarta Post that they were monitoring the situation and trying to balance their citizensâ health as well as the economy. âWe really need foreign tourists, but we donât want to risk having new clusters. Reopening to foreign tourists is under evaluation. Vaccines may only be available next year.â
In a webinar on Thursday, Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Pandjaitan stated that Indonesia will try to boost domestic tourism as much as possible, and that the likelihood of the country opening up to foreign visitors was slim. âWith regard to foreign tourists, I think we will not be welcoming them until the end of the year,â he said.Â
Work from Bali, soon?
While it might be bad news for travellers, there might be a silver lining. Pandjaitan confirmed that the Indonesian government was working on regulations to enable foreigners to work from Bali while on a vacation. âThose foreigners, with expertise in technology, can work from Bali. We are mulling over that aspect, and we encourage it. We just have to chalk out the rules now,â he said on Thursday.Â An official regulation allowing workations in Bali would likely mean fewer or no visa hassles while staying on the island.Â
Bali has been hit hard by the pandemic, as much of its economy depends on tourism. Six million travellers visited the island last year, contributing to 50 percent of the countryâs income from the tourism industry. As economic opportunities dry up, many locals have returned to their villages in Indonesia to take up farming jobs, forcing them to consider what their futures will look like beyond tourism.Â
The country is trying hard to revive its tourism industry by encouraging its citizens to travel across the country. The Ministry of Home Affairs recently tied up with influencer Tina Bule to help revive tourism and encourage Indonesians to discover their own country.
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