Aussie expats stuck in Bali say the former tourist mecca has turned into a ghost town


Australian expats who have stayed in Bali during the COVID-19 pandemic have told how the once bustling tourist mecca is now a deserted ghost town. 

Footage of the island shows busy markets completely empty and rows of scooters and tuk-tuks that would have once noisily battled for a place on the road parked silently to the side. 

Hotels that would usually be booked out heading into summer are now sitting at just 10 per cent occupancy – with their gardens and pools in disrepair. 

Ms Cummins (pictured), who runs the Bali Buddies travel website, said local tourist spots were struggling so much they were offering cheap deals but still had trouble drawing in holidaymakers 

‘There’s going to be some places that don’t survive this,’ tourism expert Karlie Cummins told A Current Affair. 

Ms Cummins, who runs the Bali Buddies travel website, said local tourist spots were struggling so much that they were offering bargain deals but still had trouble drawing in holidaymakers. 

‘You feel sad for some of the businesses that aren’t doing so well and the locals out of work but… if you’re lucky enough to still have an income in Bali, it’s paradise because there’s deals everywhere,’ she said. 

Footage of the island shows rows of scooters and tuk-tuks that would have once noisily battled for a place on the road parked along the side

Footage of the island shows once bustling markets now empty

Footage of the island shows once bustling markets now empty and rows of scooters and tuk-tuks that would have once noisily battled for a place on the road parked along the side 

The Australian manager of the Bali Garden Beach Resort, Craig Biber, said his once extremely popular venue was surviving on the local tourist trade. 

Mr Biber said the coronavirus pandemic had caught many businesses on the island off-guard as travel bans ‘came at a time when we were heading into a very solid period of forward bookings’. 

Western Australian man Jack Ahearn, who lives in Bali, posted a video of an abandoned hotel in the normally-thriving Kuta Beach precinct on Saturday. 

In the video, the hotel’s pool was full of leaves and the water had turned green from not being cleaned for months.  

Western Australian man Jack Ahearn, who lives in Bali, posted a video of an abandoned hotel in the normally-thriving Kuta Beach precinct on Saturday

Western Australian man Jack Ahearn, who lives in Bali, posted a video of an abandoned hotel in the normally-thriving Kuta Beach precinct on Saturday 

A green uncleaned pool at an abandoned hotel on Kuta Beach, Bali. WA man Jack Ahearn, who lives in Bali, posted a video of the derelict hotel on the normally-busy Kuta Beach on Saturday

A green uncleaned pool at an abandoned hotel on Kuta Beach, Bali. WA man Jack Ahearn, who lives in Bali, posted a video of the derelict hotel on the normally-busy Kuta Beach on Saturday

The camera then panned to the hotel lobby, which had been stripped bare of anything valuable with only litter, dirt and debris left behind. 

‘This video is one of many hotels that are done and all trashed like this. It’s very sad,’ Mr Ahearn captioned the post. 

‘You can’t count how many others there are now and there surely will be more in the future.’ 

Mr Ahearn drives through Kuta most days to surf and has noticed the area rapidly deteriorate during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

‘Every week there are more for sale signs, for rent signs, abandoned businesses and buildings it’s nuts,’ he wrote. 

‘The videos and pictures I post don’t do justice to the feeling this place gives off now. The only time I’ve seen it ‘busy’ since February is when there is a food hand out and family’s are lined up by the hundreds.’ 

The camera then panned to the hotel lobby, which had been stripped bare of anything valuable with only litter, dirt and debris left behind

'This video is one of many hotels that are done and all trashed like this. It¿s very sad,' Mr Ahearn captioned the post

The camera then panned to the hotel lobby, which had been stripped bare of anything valuable with only litter, dirt and debris left behind. ‘This video is one of many hotels that are done and all trashed like this. It’s very sad,’ Mr Ahearn captioned the post

Even the McDonald’s fast food restaurant on Kuta Beach closed down in September. 

Mr Ahearn said ‘it’s a long long long way away for places like Kuta to recover’ and urged Australians to support locals by sending money. 

‘If you have the means, reach out to your holiday driver you use or any Balinese you know and love. I’m sure they could use a $1 or $2,’ he said. 

Mr Ahearn ran a 90km ultramarathon from the north to south of Bali on September 14 to raise money for local charity Scholars of Sustenance – Bali Strong. 

The runner incredibly completed the full marathon and raised AU$8,490.17, which is enough to provide 32,000 meals for struggling locals. 

Five Australian dollars can provide 20 meals, $20 can provide 80 meals and $100 can provide $400, according to SOS – Bali Strong.   

More than a million Australians travel to Indonesia each year and make up more than a quarter of Bali tourists – but this has dropped to zero during the pandemic. 

As a result, more than 73,000 people have been furloughed and another 2,500 workers have lost their jobs in Bali due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Former Australian Bachelorette Anna Heinrich at Finns Beach club in Bali. More than a million Australians travel to Indonesia each year and make up more than a quarter of Bali tourists - but this has dropped to zero during the pandemic

Former Australian Bachelorette Anna Heinrich at Finns Beach club in Bali. More than a million Australians travel to Indonesia each year and make up more than a quarter of Bali tourists – but this has dropped to zero during the pandemic

Kuta Beach has been described as the ‘tourist Mecca’ of Bali since it is lined with hotels, bars, restaurants and tourism services.  

The popular beach is located in the regency of Badung, which normally earns between $19 million and $38 million from January to June. 

But the regency had only earned $572,000 from January to June this year.  

While international borders are still closed, Bali reopened to domestic tourism on July 31, which saw regency revenue increase to $1.1million in August.   

Foreign tourist arrivals in Indonesia slumped 89.22 percent year-on-year to 164,970 in August 2020. Meanwhile, Bali arrivals plunged 100 percent to 12.  

The Indonesian government predicts $14 billion will be lost from tourism in 2020 and has introduced a $28 billion in fiscal stimulus to fight the downturn. 

Bali’s provincial governor Wayan Koster said the island will not reopen to tourists until at least the end of 2020.  

‘The situation in Indonesia is not yet conducive to allowing foreign tourists to visit Indonesia, including visiting Bali,’ he said. 

A tourist outside of McDonald's on Kuta Beach before it closed. The fast food restaurant permanently closed its doors on September 29 after Indonesia closed its borders to travellers in April

A tourist outside of McDonald’s on Kuta Beach before it closed. The fast food restaurant permanently closed its doors on September 29 after Indonesia closed its borders to travellers in April

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