Bali Governor Wayan Koster said that the central government in Indonesia is looking into a near-future possibility of opening up borders for foreign travelers, in the latest string of efforts to revive the province’s tourism-dependent economy. However, it should be clear that nothing is set in stone just yet.
“It is being discussed with the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Ministry of Transportation,” Koster said, explaining that officials are still in the early stages of considering the possibility.
Rumors of a plan to open up the Indonesian borders in December have reportedly been making their rounds on WhatsApp, prompting a response from local officials.
Dewa Made Indra, regional secretary to the Bali administration, also previously clarified that the matter has not been decided yet.
“This is not about whether we are willing or not. If we are willing and permitted to open, we would have done it from way before because this is crucial for our economy. But the central government is still evaluating our readiness, so that we don’t open up and it results in [COVID-19] cases escalating. If that’s the case we wouldn’t be benefiting, but incurring losses,” Indra said.
Bali’s economy shrank 12.28 percent on an annual basis in the third quarter of this year, after it contracted by 10.98 percent in the second quarter. Along with Nusa Tenggara islands, the popular holiday destination is among the hardest hit regions in Indonesia.
The island has been open to domestic tourists since late July, but, as with the rest of Indonesia , has remained closed to foreign tourists amid the global halt in travel during the pandemic. Though the latest report only signifies a mere possibility at this point, Koster did say in August that the archipelagic nation will keep its border closed until at least the end of 2020.