Bali’s Ngurah Rai Airport plans to establish special travel corridor to attract South Korean tourists

A passenger wearing a face mask at Ngurah Rai International Airport. Photo: Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry’s Public Communications Bureau
A passenger wearing a face mask at Ngurah Rai International Airport. Photo: Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry’s Public Communications Bureau

Indonesia’s airport management firm PT Angkasa Pura I is reportedly in talks with South Korean officials to establish a special route for travelers from the East Asian country to visit Bali amid the raging COVID-19 pandemic.

Angkasa Pura I CEO Faik Fahmi said his firm is preparing a program called the Safe Corridor Initiative (SCI), aimed at attracting foreign tourists through cooperation between international airports.

“I think this is a good initiative to suggest to the government, so that there can be a special permit or privilege to make sure that the virus will not enter but tourists can still come to Indonesia,” Faik said during a virtual event.

The question of how to keep tourism going has been one of the priorities among Indonesian officials and businesses, despite the fact that coronavirus infections across the country have not shown any signs of slowing down or that, more specifically, its most popular holiday destination of Bali has reported a worrying surge in coronavirus cases all of last month.

Indonesia’s border remains closed to foreign travelers for the time being, barring a few exceptions such as humanitarian aid support workers and those with diplomatic visas.

Angkasa Pura I’s Director of Business Development, Dendi T Danianto, said that under SCI, tourists will be strictly monitored, with potential travelers under supervision from when they leave their homes and until they return.

“We will implement 3T: tracking, tracing, treatment, should anything happen. It’s [planned as] a bilateral agreement between [Seoul’s] Incheon Airport and Ngurah Rai in Bali,” Dendi said, claiming that the plan was initiated by the former. 

He explained that Incheon intends to implement a rigorous standard of procedure that begins when the travelers leave their house, covering testing, airport arrival, flight, and pick-up at the destination. He added that officials from Indonesia and South Korea are set to conduct ground assessment next week. 

Should the program work as planned, Angkasa Pura I hopes to forge other partnerships in the near future, such as with China. 

Dendi said that the program is slated to launch later this month, though the state-owned company still has to wait for approval from the Indonesian government, as it will require allowing foreign citizens to enter the country. 

It is not immediately clear if the agreement will also enable Indonesians to travel to South Korea, or if the arrangement only places Indonesia as a receiving country.  

South Korea’s response to the COVID-19 public health crisis has been held up as a model, though the country recorded new clusters of the novel coronavirus last month that caused a surge on its daily count. As of this morning, South Korea has confirmed 23,952 COVID-19 cases. 

Meanwhile, Indonesia has yet to flatten the curve since the pandemic began, and a daily count of over 4,000 cases has become the new norm in recent weeks, with the country’s national tally currently at 291,182.

Read more news and updates from Bali here.

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