Bali, the island holiday mecca for a generation of Australians, won’t be opening is shores to foreign visitors until at least 2021.
Local authorities had originally been aiming for a reopening next month. But an increase in cases in mainland Indonesia, plus the reality that countries which traditionally supply the bulk of Bali’s visitors are themselves still closed, prompted the announcement.
Situation not conducive, says Governor
“The situation in Indonesia is not conducive to allow international tourists to visit Indonesia, including … Bali,” the island’s Governor, I Wayan Koster said.
“The central government supports (Bali’s) plans to recover tourism by opening the doors for international tourists. However, this requires care, prudence, not to be rushed, and requires careful preparation.”
He added in a statement that more than 2 600 workers on the formal tourism industry have been laid off on the island, while a further 73 600 are on unpaid leave.
Economy dependent on foreign tourism
Bali is heavily dependent on tourism for its economic survival, with most people coming from international destinations, although there is also a component of visitors from elsewhere in Indonesia.
Australia supplies the bulk of the foreign visitors – typically around 1.3-million a year.
A recent official statement said the coronavirus has been Bali tourism’s biggest disaster, worse even than the Bali Bombings of 2002 that killed 202 people and injured 209 more.
Bali has had around 4 000 cases
The island has had around 4 000 cases of the virus and 49 deaths. According to the Governor, these are under control and the recovery rate is increasing.
Indonesia as a country declared more than 153 000 cases and around 6 700 deaths. Its borders have been closed to international travellers since March.
Initially Bali hoped to reopen on 11 September to foreign tourists. There were even unofficial mentions in early-August of a travel bubble between Bali and Australia. But the idea never progressed any further.