Indonesia’s tropical holiday island of Bali could reopen to tourists in October, thanks to its success in controlling the coronavirus outbreak, the government says.
As of Friday, Bali had reported 343 coronavirus cases and four deaths, a much lower fatality rate compared with 16,496 cases and 1076 deaths in the whole archipelago.
If the infection curve continued to improve, the tourism ministry is looking to revitalise destinations and do promotional work for some parts of the country, including Bali, between June and October, Ni Wayan Giri Adnyani, secretary of the ministry, said on Friday.
Partial reopening of those areas, which also include the city of Yogyakarta and Riau islands province, may begin in October, she said.
Bali’s economy depends largely on visitors. Its gross domestic product contracted 1.14 per cent on-year in January-March, compared with a 2.97 per cent GDP expansion nationally.
Foreign tourist arrivals into Indonesia plunged more than 60 per cent in March, compared to the year-earlier month, with Chinese arrivals sliding more than 97 per cent.
There have been fears that the popular tourist destination, which attracts around 1.2 million Aussies each year, could be on the brink of collapse because of the global health pandemic.
After the Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister announced travel restrictions in March that meant only Indonesian citizens, diplomats and family members would be able to enter the country, some of the most popular regions on the island of Bali turned to ghost towns.
While the government says the decision to close borders was crucial to lowering cases, some say it could be catastrophic for the island – and may even bring Bali to collapse.
“The coronavirus has collapsed the Balinese economy … it’s been a steep drop since (mid-March) when social-distancing measures were put in place,” Mangku Nyoman Kandia, a tour guide who has been in Bali since 1984, told the ABC in April.
“No tourist, no money.”
Fellow tour agency operator I Gusti Ngurah Adi Mahendra said he had lost 80 per cent of his income by mid-March.
“The current impact is quite felt here and concerning for everyone,” he told South China Morning Post. “Bali’s tourism can be said to be almost totally paralysed. This is very worrying.”
Australians have been told that travelling internationally might not be practical for years, but a model has been proposed that could see Aussies head overseas within months.
While Australia has been discussing a ‘travel bubble’ across the ditch with New Zealand, which would allow residents to travel between both nations while also controlling the spread of coronavirus, a leading travel industry figure believes other countries could be worked into the concept.
“I think we might see some Asian and pacific ports open their borders to us from the start to the middle of next year,” Margy Osmond from the Tourism and Transport Forum told The Courier-Mail newspaper.
She expects the Australia and New Zealand bubble to be activate from September, while agreements with countries like Taiwan, Japan and South Korea could follow.
– with Reuters