INDONESIA has seen a drastic slump in COVID-19 cases over the past several weeks, which has triggered optimism of tourism reopening, particularly in Bali, one of the most famous tourist resorts globally.
Indonesia added 903 daily COVID-19 cases on October 19, 2021, bringing the total tally to 4,236,287, the Task Force for COVID-19 Response reported. Meanwhile, it recorded 50 daily deaths, bringing the total toll to 143,049, it added.
The nation has recorded a total of 4,076,541 COVID-19 recoveries so far, as per task force data. Despite the significant fall in the number of COVID-19 cases, the government is still urging the public to remain disciplined in implementing the health protocols by wearing face masks, washing hands frequently, and keeping a safe distance.
The authorities have also maintained the frequency of 3Ts (testing, tracing, and treatment) to prevent virus spread. In view of the decline in cases, the government reopened the provinces of Bali and Riau Islands, which shares a maritime border with Singapore, to foreign tourists on October 14, 2021.
The government has said it will consider reopening other tourist destinations to foreign tourists if the number of COVID-19 cases continues to decline and the handling of the pandemic keeps improving.
“We will continue to evaluate the policy. If it runs well, we will possibly add the number of tourism sites which will conduct the trial reopening,” Tourism and Creative Economy Minister, Sandiaga Uno, said in Aceh on October 19, 2021.
After restricting the arrivals of foreign travelers, the nation has decided to allow entry to nationals from 19 countries: Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), New Zealand, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, China, India, Japan, South Korea, Liechtenstein, Italy, France, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Poland, Hungary, and Norway.
These countries have been selected after careful consideration of data, including their low COVID-19 positivity, Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, said.
At present, foreign visitors can only enter Indonesia through the Bali and Riau Islands international airports. International travelers are also required to present a limited visit visa, health insurance covering a COVID-19 positive diagnosis, proof of hotel reservation, and payment proof to officials upon arrival, according to the government’s spokesperson for COVID-19 Task Force, Wiku Adisasmito.
At a webinar entitled ‘Bali’s Readiness to Welcome International Tourists’, which was held on October 13, 2021, participants revealed that the island is eager to welcome international tourists, in keeping with all the procedures laid down by the regional and central governments.
Bali’s COVID-19 vaccination coverage has reached nearly 99 percent for the first dose and over 90 percent for the second dose. In addition, most tourism businesses in Bali have received the Cleanliness, Health, Safety, and Environment Sustainability (CHSE) certification.
Likewise Deputy Governor of Bali, Tjok Oka Artha Ardhana Sukawati, affirmed that the people of Bali are ready to welcome international tourists owing to the high percentage of COVID-19 vaccinations. Furthermore, the people of Bali have diligently complied with the health protocols during the pandemic.
Meanwhile, state-owned airport operator Angkasa Pura (AP) I has confirmed that I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport has officially reopened for international flights. AP I said it has made several preparations at the Ngurah Rai Airport for the reopening of international flights, including readying utilities, facilities, selecting officers who would serve passengers, and passenger arrival processes.
“The airport, however, has not received any applications for international flight slots from any airline,” I Gusti Ngurah Rai’s Angkasa Pura (AP) I spokesperson, Taufan Yudhistira, said on October 14, 2021.
Bali hopes to see arrivals of foreign tourists in November or December this year, he added.
Meanwhile, the Bali provincial government said it has created a guidebook for tourists on vacationing in the province amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The guidebook will be handed to tourists during the self-isolation period and provides information on arrival protocols at the I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport and the health protocols that need to be implemented while traveling.
Once they arrive in Bali, foreign tourists need to undergo a five-day self-quarantine at one of the 35 hotels designated by the government.
“During the quarantine, we urge tourists to not leave their hotel rooms to avoid the transmission of the COVID-19 virus,” head of the Bali Provincial Tourism Office, Putu Astawa, said on October 19, 2021.
Tourists need to carry visas, complete COVID-19 vaccination certificates, and health insurance, with a minimum coverage value of US$100 thousand and show they will cover the cost of COVID-19 treatment, he added.
They will also need to submit negative results of RT-PCR tests, taken a maximum of 72 hours before departure, and accommodation proof. In addition, tourists will have to undergo two additional RT-PCR tests: once they arrive at the airport and on the fourth day of their quarantine.
Statistics Indonesia (BPS) has indicated that tourist arrivals in Bali have dropped by 99.99% compared to 2019, when they were recorded at 6,275,210. [antaranews]