Bali governor talks up the possibility of reopening to foreign tourists

Bali Governor Wayan Koster. Photo: Bali Provincial Government
Bali Governor Wayan Koster. Photo: Bali Provincial Government

Bali Governor I Wayan Koster says he’s optimistic about the revival of international tourism on the island during a meeting with the newly-appointed Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Sandiaga Uno yesterday, despite rising COVID-19 cases in the country.

“We have agreed to keep on pushing various policies to return the trust of tourists, especially foreign tourists, to visit bali. [This is] so that the tourism sector can revive,” Koster said in a statement issued by the Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry today.

During most of the pandemic, foreign tourists have not been allowed to visit Indonesia with the exception of essential business travel, among others.

Koster said the tourism sector has become the main priority for revival in order to recover Bali’s economy. With more than half of the regional economy on the island dependent on tourism, the pandemic has severely impacted the province. It is the hardest hit economy in Indonesia, having contracted by 12.28 percent on an annual basis in the third quarter of this year. 

At this point, Bali’s economy is slowly recovering, especially with the rising number of visitors from the rest of the country after it reopened to domestic tourism at the end of July. 

Sandiaga said he agrees with Koster’s suggestion of the necessity to accelerate the recovery of tourism and creative economy sectors in Bali.

“We agreed that we will work fast together but with great care, so that the Balinese people’s employment [rate] will be saved, [so they] can get back up and recover,” the former vice governor of Jakarta said.

“We have to move fast,  teamwork must be strengthened to overcome the pandemic as well as to revive the tourism and creative economy sectors.”

In mid-December, The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) said that they were optimistic about Bali’s readiness to welcome foreign tourists before Christmas, hailing the province’s safety protocol during the pandemic as “excellent” during their visit to the island, despite plenty of evidence otherwise.

Yet any plans to reopen Bali will have to wait until at least the conclusion of a new Foreign Affairs Ministry policy banning foreign nationals from all countries to enter the country from Jan. 1-14 to prevent an outbreak of the new strain of the coronavirus.

All foreign nationals who are due to arrive in Indonesia from Dec. 28-31 are required to present a negative result of their PCR swab test from their country of origin, which should be taken at most two days before the date of departure.

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