Work from Bali: Indonesia opening up to foreign digital nomads with working holiday regulation

A scene at coworking and coliving space, Outpost Canggu. Photo courtesy of Outpost
A scene at coworking and coliving space, Outpost Canggu. Photo courtesy of Outpost

Indonesia plans on issuing a regulation that would allow foreign travelers to work while holidaying in the country, one of the country’s top ministers said yesterday. 

“Foreigners who are experts in technology or IT, they [can] work from Bali […] we are already pushing for this. It’s just the regulation aspect we’re working on,” Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Pandjaitan said during a virtual event yesterday. 

It’s not like foreign nationals (or digital nomads, as they say) aren’t already doing something along those lines in Bali, but an official regulation would likely mean fewer or no visa runs and a legal basis for staying while also working on the island. 

The government is hoping to revive the tourism industry, which has been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Bali has already reopened to domestic tourists since July 31, and previously announced the possibility of opening up to international travelers in September. For the time being, Indonesian borders are still closed to foreign nationals, barring few exceptions.  

Also Read Bali reopening has yielded ‘joyful results,’ minister says

However, the plan to attract foreign travelers for long-term visits to Indonesia might not be implemented any time soon, as Luhut’s most recent statement suggests that the country will not welcome any foreign tourists until the end of the year. 

“In regards to foreign tourists, I think we will not accept them until the end of the year. Let us consolidate by ourselves,” Luhut said.  

“I have reported to the president that we have enough domestic [potential] because there is no Umrah pilgrimage right now. That’s about 500,000 to 1 million people who previously had money to go for Umrah,” he continued. 

The minister also previously said that the ongoing global travel halt opens up an opportunity for domestic tourism to bring in more than US$15 billion. The government says the focus is on reaching the 70 percent target of contribution from domestic travelers to the national tourism industry.

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