Excitement high as Bali set to welcome 6 tourists from Japan today

Ngurah Rai International Airport in Denpasar, Bali. Photo: Bali Airport
Ngurah Rai International Airport in Denpasar, Bali. Photo: Bali Airport

Government officials in Bali are set to attend a welcome ceremony for half a dozen tourists from Japan today, in an illustration of just how desperate the island is for tourism dollars.

As previously reported, Bali is re-relaunching international tourism starting Feb. 4, with the government arranging direct international flights and quarantine hotels on the holiday island. A limited international tourism relaunch in October 2021 had been anticlimactic, at best.

Heralding the new phase is the scheduled arrival of a Garuda Indonesia flight from Tokyo’s Narita Airport at Bali’s Ngurah Rai Airport at 4pm today. The plane will be carrying six foreign tourists, who will be given a ceremonial welcome by Bali officials.

“Myself and Vice Governor [Cok Ace] will be in attendance,” Bali Tourism Agency Acting Head Tjok Pemayun said yesterday.

“My hope is that the arrival of foreign tourists tomorrow will bring about hope so Bali recovers to what it was.”

Garuda is set to operate the Narita-Bali route once a week. Starting Feb. 16, Singapore Airlines will resume daily flights from the Little Red Dot to Bali. There have been no reports yet of other direct international routes being re-established with Bali.

Starting Feb. 4, the government said tourists from any country can come to Bali using an e-visa. For the October 2021 international tourism relaunch, only tourists from 19 countries, including New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, and Japan but excluding, most notably, Australia and Singapore, were allowed entry to Bali.

There will be no Bali-specific concession regarding mandatory quarantine to begin with, as foreign tourists are still expected to undergo five days of hotel quarantine if they’re fully-vaccinated, and seven days if they’re partially vaccinated.

Related — Despite rising COVID-19 cases, Indonesia shortens mandatory quarantine from 7 days to 5

Bali tourism officials say five hotels are ready to take on quarantining tourists, namely the Grand Hyatt and Westin Resort in Nusa Dua, the Royal Tulip in Jimbaran, the Griya Santrian in Denpasar, and the Viceroy in Ubud.

A quarantine package can go up to IDR12 million (US$836.88) per person, which includes three meals daily, laundry service, and PCR tests. However, the current prices were set for seven days of quarantine, and may be revised down in light of the central government recently reducing mandatory quarantine to five days.

Bali’s international tourism relaunch has been anti-climactic since the 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.

Also read — Tourism Minister Sandiaga Uno helps tourists overcome alleged false PCR test positives from Jakarta hotel

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