Indonesia Decides to Keep Bali Closed to Foreign Travellers

Bali, covid-19, Indonesia, market strategy

(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

With the COVID-19 pandemic entering into a new active phase around the world, Indonesian authorities decided to postpone the reopening of Bali to foreign travellers to 2021…

COVID-19 continues to make waves around the world. The pandemic is affecting 22 million people around the world with the number of dead slowly approaching the 800,000 mark. In Southeast Asia, Indonesia is the most affected country with the Philippines. While its neighbour has more infected cases at 157,000 on August 16 while Indonesia records 137,000 cases. But Indonesia has over 6,000 deads while the Philippines has an official tally of 2,600 deads.

The government is consequently acknowledging the continuous growth in new cases around the world and reverted an earlier decision to open Bali on September 11 to foreign travellers.  Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Pandjaitan announced during a meeting with the country’s business community on Thursday that Bali will finally remain closed to foreign tourists at least until the end of the year. The minister explained that all non-essential foreign visitors will remain barred from entering the country, while the government will try to boost domestic tourism to keep the hospitality sector afloat.

Pandjaitan’s remarks also ended speculation as to whether the central government would revoke a regulation issued by the justice minister in late March banning foreigners — except those arriving for essential, diplomatic and official purposes — from entering Indonesia amid ongoing efforts to contain the virus outbreak.

This looks like a disappointing decision for the island which is mostly living from international tourism and was until now Indonesia’s top tourist destination with six million international travellers a year, generating over US$10 billion a year. Talking to Arab News, Ida Bagus Agung Partha Adnyana, head of the Bali Tourism Board, said industry players in Bali were ready for the Sept. 11 plan but acknowledged that the central government’s decision to keep foreign arrivals suspended “must be based on a more urgent reason.”
“There could be a macro outlook behind Jakarta’s decision, and it could be for everyone’s greater good,” Adnyana told Arab News.
According to Pandjaitan, Indonesian authorities will focus on promoting domestic tourism, especially as many local travellers will not be able to leave the country until year end at least.

The Indonesian government is planning to spend US$260 million for promotion on domestic markets. Money will be allocated for the tourism sector to promote selected destinations such as Lake Toba in North Sumatra; Borobudur Temple in Central Java; beaches in North Sulawesi as well as beaches of Mandalika in Lombok island; Labuan Bajo on the Flores island, which serves as a gateway to Komodo Island and Mount Kelimutu with its three volcanic crater lakes of different colors.

(Partial sources: Arab News)