Bali hoping Bill Gates’ planned April visit could boost tourism

File photo of Bill Gates. Photo: Masaru Kamikura/Flickr
File photo of Bill Gates. Photo: Masaru Kamikura/Flickr

Could Bill Gates be the spark Bali needs to return its ailing tourism industry to its glory days? The provincial government is hopeful that excitement surrounding his possible visit could at least provide a little boost.

Bali’s Tourism Agency says the island is ready and would be appreciative of the chance to host a summit headlined by the Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist.

“Now, we want all sorts of opportunities to welcome tourists. Any international tourists, if they hold any kind of event in Bali, we express our gratitude,” Bali Tourism Agency Acting Head Tjok Bagus Pemayun said.

“Public figures, or anybody, as long as they bring along many others and shop a lot, then be our guest. As long as they abide by health protocols.”

Last week, Coordinating Maritime Affairs and Investment Minister Luhut Pandjaitan teased the possibility of dozens of charitable foundations holding a summit for climate change and waste management in Bali in April 2022. Luhut said that the likes of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation 

and The Rockefeller Foundation were among those who wrote a letter to President Joko Widodo asking about Bali’s availability to host.

Indonesia, which is also hosting the G20 summit in Bali later this year, said it would welcome Bill Gates and pals with open arms. However, there have been no definitive updates on the planned summit since.

Bali’s international tourism relaunch has been anti-climactic since program launched in October 2021. In fact, an official said that not one commercial international flight landed at Ngurah Rai Airport in the three months since Bali reopened to international tourists.

Prior to the reopening, the island only saw 45 international tourists arriving in the first 10 months of 2021.

Tourism operators have lamented Indonesia’s strict travel restrictions and have called for exceptions to be made for Bali’s tourists.

Bali welcomed 6 million tourists in 2019. The island, which is almost entirely reliant on the tourism industry, came to a standstill when the pandemic hit.

Things began looking up towards the end of 2021, with domestic tourists arriving in large numbers to give the island’s economy a lifeline.

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