Foreign tourist arrivals in Bali hit decade low

A man stretches on a beach in Bali. Photo: Unsplash
A man stretches on a beach in Bali. Photo: Unsplash

Foreign tourist arrivals to Bali plummeted to around 1 million last year ⁠— the lowest level in a decade ⁠— following global travel restrictions and subsequent border closures amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Central Statistics Agency (BPS) yesterday said that last year’s total number reflects a staggering drop of 83 percent from 2019, with the large chunk of foreign tourist arrivals in 2020 taking place in the first three months of the year.

Indonesia reported its first COVID-19 cases back in March, but officials in Bali responded with an attempt to lessen the blow on the local economy and launched a tourism campaign called “We Love Bali,” claiming at the time that the province has yet to record any cases of the coronavirus. In mid-March, however, a British woman on the island became Indonesia’s first recorded COVID-19 death.

The Southeast Asian country eventually closed its borders on April 2.

“[This is] because many countries who are Indonesia’s main markets for foreign tourists are still implementing travel restrictions or international travel bans. There are even some countries going through second waves in the pandemic that have implemented lockdowns,” BPS Chief Suhariyanto said during a virtual press conference.

Bali’s battered tourism industry has largely depended on domestic tourism since the onset of the pandemic, but it has struggled to keep a lid on infections after reopening to domestic tourists at the end of July last year. As of Feb. 1, the provincial COVID-19 tally stood at 26,557 cases.

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