Published on : Friday, July 10, 2020
After observing nearly three months of coronavirus lockdown restrictions, Indonesia’s resort island of Bali has finally decided to reopen its tourism sector. The island will now allow local people and stranded foreign tourists to resume public activities before foreign arrivals begin in September. Though the partial reopening began on July 9, Bali Governor Wayan Koster has announced that the island’s reopening will be gradual. It has also been announced that Ngurah Rai International Airport will start welcoming international tourists from September.
Over the past few months, the usually bustling beaches and streets on the picturesque Southeast Asian island remained mostly empty. The only visible individuals were special patrols who were on duty to ensure the maintenance of health protocols to contain the COVID-19 virus spread. All public activities were restricted and all shops, bars, sit-down restaurants, public swimming pools and many other places were also shut. Though the local government has started easing the restrictions, tourists will face stringent rules in hotels, restaurants and on beaches.
Governor I Wayan Koster mentioned in a recent press statement that the island will gradually reopen shuttered places to locals and the foreigners stranded in Bali during the pandemic. He also announced that the island will open to Indonesians from other parts of the country on July 31 and new foreign arrivals will be welcomed from September 11. He said that the COVID-19 outbreak has harshly impacted the tourism sector of the island and there is still no certainty about the end of the suffering. He mentioned that reviving economic activity s highly essential at the moment to prevent Bali from new social problems due to increasing economic pressures. He also informed that that guidelines established by the government are subjected for closure if infections increase again.
Tourism is one of the key sources of income for the island and contributes largely to Bali’s GDP. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Bali welcomed approximately 5 million foreigners every year. However, the virus outbreak caused the number to dive. The total number of stranded tourists in Bali remains unknown but according to reports, more than 169,000 travellers came to Bali in March before the island closed its doors. The data showed that some 2,500 travellers had extended their visas to avoid penalties for overstaying them before Indonesia’s government granted all tourists automatic extensions in late March. The Bali administration also reported that showed the occupancy rate at Bali’s starred hotels plunged to 2.07% in May from 62.5% in December, before the outbreak hit. Therefore, gradual reopening of the tourism sector will bring relief to industry professionals as well as stranded tourists.