Bali reopens for business: Holiday island plans to invite tourists to return in MAY – with Chinese visitors welcomed in first
- Indonesian officials are confident the pandemic will be over by next year
- Balinese tourist bosses said the resort island could reopen next month
- Tourism businesses in Bali were among the hardest hit by the travel restrictions
- More than 46,000 employees on the holiday island were furloughed last week
- Learn more about how to help people impacted by COVID
The resort island of Bali could reopen for holidaymakers next month as Indonesia tries to forge a path out of the coronavirus pandemic.
Flights to Indonesia were suspended on April 2 as nations around the world closed their borders in an attempt to curb the rate of COVID-19 infections.
Tourism businesses in Bali were among the hardest hit by the travel restrictions with more than 46,000 employees being furloughed last week.
But the island’s tourism boss is optimistic that the resort could open its doors to tourists again in May if the Balinese people are ‘disciplined’ about social distancing.
Foreign tourists wearing face masks flock to Bali Immigration Office amid the coronavirus outbreak on March 23
Foreigners wear protective masks as they queue up outside the immigration office to extend their visa in Bali on March 23, as borders around the world close
‘The key is no more local transmissions. When we achieve that, not even until June, even May we can start welcoming Chinese tourists,’ head of the Tourism Agency in Bali Putu Astawa told local publication Tribun on Thursday.
While the Indonesian government was adamant it would focus on eliminating the virus before opening the borders, tourists from countries recovering from the outbreak will be the targets of tourism campaigns.
Those countries include China, which recorded 12 new cases of the virus as of Tuesday morning, South Korea which had 13 cases, and Japan which had none.
Indonesian president Joko Widodo is confident the pandemic will be resolved by the end of the year and expects tourism to flourish in 2021.
‘Everyone is yearning to go out, people want to enjoy the beauty of tourism and so this is the optimism that we must continue to build on,’ he said last week, according to Balinese publication Coconuts.
But workers in Bali have been suffering financial losses in the face of the coronavirus economic downturn since last month – before flight restrictions were implemented.
Eerie photos of Ngurah Rai International Airport emerged on March 12 of the once-bustling international airport almost devoid of people.
The photos were posted on social media by a local tour guide accompanied by the caption: ‘Bali Airport today at 9.30am. Very Empty. Bali very sad and hard life.’
Eerie photos of Ngurah Rai International Airport emerged on March 12 of the once-bustling international airport almost devoid of people
Photos of Ngurah Rai International Airport show the severe damage the coronavirus is doing to Bali’s tourism industry
The tour group employee told Daily Mail Australia that March is normally a busy time.
‘Every country has travel warnings now not to travel to Indonesia,’ he said.
‘I understand that corona is very bad for the tourism industry, but now everyone is scared come to Bali.’
He used the comments section on the airport’s Facebook page to plead with tourists to give his company some business.
‘If you still come to Bali for your holiday, use our transport service,’ he wrote.
CORONAVIRUS CASES IN AUSTRALIA: 6,644
New South Wales: 2,969
Western Australia: 546
South Australia: 437
Australian Capital Territory: 104
Northern Territory: 28
TOTAL CASES: 6,644
The Indonesian government previously came under fire for trying to entice people to visit the tourist resort before Indonesia had confirmed cases of the virus.
Bali has since reported 135 cases in total. Three people have died and 38 have recovered.
Despite Balinese tourism officials claiming the island could be back open for business next month, travel bans for Australians are expected to extend to 2021.
Federal Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham told ABC’s News Breakfast last week: ‘I wouldn’t put any guarantees that you could undertake that overseas trip in December.’
‘This is a time where, unfortunately, people can’t undertake holidays and they won’t be able to go overseas for quite some time to come.’