Is Bali Open for Tourism?

The re-opening of Indonesia’s renowned touristic avenue, the Island of Bali, is not without disputation. Due to recent pandemic, Bali’s economy was reported to decline significantly, the closing of main touristic spots and local entertainments to curtail the increase of COVID-19 cases cited as the primary force behind the economic decline.

Source: The Jakarta Post, European tourists seen flocking to witness the traditional Kecak Dance in Uluwatu, Bali.

The official data of Bali provincial government’s page showing notable spike in coronavirus cases in Bali for the past weeks has caused the central and local government to reconsider the best decision in regard to the reopening of tourism which is widely known as the main source of income for Indonesia’s most famous tourism spot.

Speaking to The Jakarta Post on Dec 11, Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry spokesman Prabu Revolusi conveyed the intention of the government to open the gate of Bali’s tourism but certain factors of current condition seems in the way of this critical decision.

Prabu further clarified that there has been no fixed date for the reopening and the plan entirely depends on Bali’s ability to manage its safety in regard to the current pandemic situation.

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According to the international tourism agency United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), there is a feasible possibility to open Bali for local and international tourism soon. Harry Hwang, the Asia and Pacific Director of UNWTO in his interview with several media outlets approached the issue in a more positive tone, saying he doesn’t have major concern over Bali’s reopening, he believed that it is not impossible to open Bali again after a long temporary break.

Cited from the official website of UNWTO, in the beginning of December, the organisation has conducted a collaborative workshop focusing on the strategy of local governments and stakeholders to restart the tourism sector in Bali. The discussion covered formulation of policies as well as immigration protocols to prepare the better response to the current reality. Tjokorda Oka Artha, the vice governor of Bali, was seen addressing the workshop by stating the fact that the percentage of tourism arrival to Bali has fallen by 12% in the third quarter compared to the same data measured in 2019.

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Since the heightened outbreak of coronavirus in March, local authorities in Bali has taken necessary steps to curb the transmission in the island by shutting down major tourism attractions and banning international arrivals. According to I Wayan Mardiana in his interview with bali.bisnis.com, the head of Cooperative and SME agency (Dinas Koperasi dan UKM) in Bali showed his concern because this situation resulted in the losing of main income source for numerous small-medium enterprises who depend their lives solely by the influx of tourists. The reopening of tourism in Bali will give a hope to the small business and local vendors to rise from the current impediment. However, there has not been any assurance over the exact date of an all-encompassing reopening of Bali’s tourism and the return to its full-scale operation like when the outbreak has not reached the island.

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Yasmin is a tourism and lifestyle reporter at thebalinews.com. She completed her undergraduate degree in Political Science with a major in International Relations from Istanbul Medeniyet University, Turkey. She is interested in domestic and international politics, as well as the study of diplomacy and development.