The holiday island of Bali reopened to tourists from select countries on Thursday in what Indonesian authorities have dubbed “baby steps” to resume international travel.
Indonesia closed its borders to foreign travelers about 18 months ago.
Vaccinated tourists from 19 countries – including China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand as well as parts of Western Europe and the Arabian Gulf – can now travel to Bali and the Indonesian Riau Islands. Travelers are subject to a five-day quarantine and Covid-19 test.
The plans are considered a milestone for the tourism-dependent islands of the Southeast Asian country, which have been destroyed by the ongoing travel restrictions. Still, several key feeder markets for overseas tourism – including Bali’s No. 1 in Australia and neighboring Singapore – have been removed from the list.
Talks with Singapore and Australia are ongoing
Speaking to CNBC, Indonesia’s Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy Sandiaga Uno said the current policy was based on scientific data and guidelines from a panel of epidemiologists. He added that the list will expand as data from additional markets support it.
We want to make sure that there is no stop-and-go.
Indonesia’s Minister for Tourism and Creative Industries
“We want to make sure that it’s not a stop-and-go, but a smooth, incremental basis,” Uno told CNBC’s Street Signs.
“[With] Singapore and Australia, we definitely continue, “he said, noting that talks are focused on ensuring that the reopening” is done on a safe basis first “.
Competition with quarantine-free travel destinations
The partial reopening of Indonesia is taking place as neighboring countries, including Thailand, Singapore and parts of Vietnam, receive vaccinated tourists from selected countries quarantine-free.
Indonesia – burned from a sloppy approach to quarantines that led to a surge in Covid-19 cases in July – is taking a more cautious approach. You have reason too. The country is preparing to host the G-20 summit in Bali in 2022.
“It will be purely scientific and will ensure that this process goes smoothly for the next 18 months as we are hosting G20 events here,” said Uno.
People visit Seminyak on January 5, 2021 on the Indonesian holiday island of Bali.
Sonny Tumbelaka | AFP | Getty Images
In addition to the quarantines, which the UN said would be revised in good time, the islands are implementing new security measures such as hotel certifications and vaccination boosters.
“We are making sure that Bali gives priority to the entire island to get 100% boosters in the first quarter of next year,” he said.
Authorities hope the new measures will help revitalize Indonesia’s tourism industry, which accounts for around 4% of the country’s gross domestic product. However, Uno acknowledged that reaching the pre-pandemic number may take some time, as visitors are likely to opt for less frequent but longer stays in the near future.