Virus Outbreak Indonesia
A beach vendor sets chairs as he waits for customers in Kuta beach in Bali, Indonesia, Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021. The Indonesian resort island of Bali welcomed international travelers to its shops and white-sand beaches for the first time in more than a year Thursday - if they're vaccinated, test negative, hail from certain countries, quarantine and heed restrictions in public. (AP Photo/Firdia Lisnawati)
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Bali reopens to foreign travelers but no international flights arrive

17 Comments
By FIRDIA LISNAWATI

The Indonesian resort island of Bali reopened for international travelers to visit its shops and white-sand beaches for the first time in more than a year Thursday - if they're vaccinated, test negative, hail from certain countries, quarantine and heed restrictions in public.

However, foreign visitors may be slow to arrive. No international flights to Bali were scheduled on the first day of the reopening and a tourism official forecast travel would pick up in November.

Bali's airport will welcome new foreign arrivals from 19 countries that meet World Health Organization's criteria such as having their COVID-19 cases under control, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, the government minister who leads the COVID-19 response in Java and Bali, said in a statement late Wednesday.

He said all international flight passengers must have proof they've been vaccinated two times, test negative for the coronavirus upon arrival in Bali and undergo a 5-day quarantine at designated hotels at their own expense. They'll also have to follow stringent rules at hotels, in restaurants and on beaches.

"We have to do this with caution because we need to stay alert," Pandjaitan said.

President Joko Widodo credited Bali's high vaccination rate for the decision to reopen. The country's COVID-19 caseload has also declined considerably; Indonesia has had around 1,000 cases a day in the past week after peaking around 56,000 daily in July.

Tourism is the main source of income on the idyllic "island of the gods" that is home to more than 4 million people, who are mainly Hindu in the mostly Muslim archipelago nation. Bali's tourist areas were deserted two decades ago after visitors were scared off by deadly terror attacks that targeted foreigners, but the island has worked to overcome that image.

More than 6 million foreigners arrived in Bali each year prior to the pandemic.

Foreign tourist arrivals dropped six-fold from 6.2 million in 2019 to only 1 million in 2020, while 92,000 people employed in tourism lost their jobs and the average room occupancy rate of classified hotels in Bali was below 20%. Statistics Indonesia data showed the island's economy contracted 9.31% year-on-year last year.

After closing the island to all visitors early in the pandemic, Bali reopened to Indonesians from other parts of the country in the middle of last year. That helped the island's gross domestic product grow a modest 2.83% in the second quarter this year, ending five consecutive quarters of contraction.

The July surge, fueled by the delta variant, again totally emptied the island's normally bustling beaches and streets. Authorities restricted public activities, closed the airport and shuttered all shops, bars, sit-down restaurants, tourist attraction spots and many other places on the island. It reopened to domestic travelers in August.

Sang Putu Wibawa, the general manager at Bali's Tandjung Sari Hotel, said only two of its 40 rooms were occupied on average and he hoped the reopening would help the occupancy rate back to normal.

"We have been waiting for this moment for so long," he said. "This outbreak has hammered the local economy ... we are very excited to welcome foreign guests by observing health protocols."

Widodo said deciding to reopen Bali was based on its high vaccination rate as well as wanting to revive its economy. He said more than 80% of the Bali population has been fully vaccinated.

"Based on this situation, I am optimistic and we have decided to reopen international flights to Bali," Widodo wrote in his official Instagram on Saturday.

Overall, 59.4 million of Indonesia's 270 million people are fully vaccinated and another 43.2 million are partially vaccinated. Indonesia has confirmed more than 4.2 million cases and 142,811 deaths from COVID-19, the most in Southeast Asia.

Tourists from 19 countries are now able to visit the Bali and Riau islands provinces - Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, New Zealand, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, China, India, Japan, South Korea, Liechtenstein, Italy, France, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Poland, Hungary, and Norway.

The tight timing is one reasons tourists were not immediately arriving, said Putu Astawa, head of the Bali Tourism Office

Airlines need time to schedule flights to Bali, while tourists need time to arrange travel documents such as tickets, insurance and virus tests as well as their five-day quarantine accommodations.

He predicted new visitors would start coming in early November.

© Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.


17 Comments
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Quarantine in a 4 star hotel for 5 days on Bali island or 10 days in Japan with an expensive test to follow.

Tourism in Japan won’t recover until 2022…

5 ( +8 / -3 )

The rest of the world is charting a path to open up and Japan is sitting on their hands planning for multiple boosters.

Open.....the.....border.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

That's good news I guess, rather than actual news involving corruption, mass killings and politicians promises. Hey welcome to 2 weeks on a Thailand beach. Soon you have to return to reality, but here is a T-shirt. don’t talk about our King? That’s jail time. Lovely.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

Yea I know my mistake Bali Thailand it’s so hard to distinguish between the two, make one mistake in either and that concrete wall could be anywhere.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

Quarantine and masks on the beach and restricted movement are not going to cut for me. Another quarantine when back home here.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Amazing Bali!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Seriously! After passing all the tests, entering Bali, quarantining in your Hotel room for 5 days, looks like you still have to wear a mask on the beach. WTH! Why even bother going at all!

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Sorry but I'm not going to sit in a hotel room for 5 days on "vacation".

8 ( +8 / -0 )

But on the bright side it won't be full of drunken Aussies? :)

4 ( +8 / -4 )

So sick of seeing 'quarantine' attached to all these 'opening up' articles. But things are moving in the right direction.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

@Mr Kipling

I'm Australian but I felt the same about the ski fields here last winter, looking forward to it again soon.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

It's all very well to go there, but for many people, returning to their home countries can be an expensive nightmare.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I remember the days when you worried about catching something serious while visiting South East Asia, like malaria or nasty diarrhoeal diseases. Nowadays, we're worried about catching a cold.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

These SEA countries just don't get it yet. Casual tourists are not looking to fly 12-15 hours to pay for the privilege of sitting in quarantine for the first half of a vacation followed by restricted activities, curfews, multiple tests, etc. for the remainder of their stay.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

virus tests as well as their five-day quarantine accommodations

This is why people aren't travelling. Wake up!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Thailand is scheduled to reopen a bit more freely from November- no quarantine at least. But the paperwork will still be a PITA, the primitive stick into the brain PCR test is still done, etc. But the worst is coming back to Japan. At present, you still have to do a 10 day to 2 week home quarantine. Who has time for that? I am hoping the J-govt gets smart and eases restrictions on returning residents.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Anyone see the details of what the hotel quarantine means? (stay in room? stay on hotel grounds?)

Best I could find is this hotel which describes a quarantine package designed for you to stay in your room or villa (https://www.viceroybali.com/en/bali-quarantine-package/).

Anyway, it wont matter until probably 2022 when Japan figures out a way to reduce its quarantine.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

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