Bali International airport has conducted a trial run in preparation for the return of foreign tourists as local businesses gear up for the reopening scheduled for 14th October.
Main picture Kuta in Bali, Indonesia, credit Dennis Sylvester Hurd on flickr
Travellers from Abu Dhabi, China, Dubai, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea will be allowed to visit Bali as long as they are fully vaccinated and have a recent, negative, PCR test. Many of the countries on the list are not currently permitting travel however.
On arrival they will need to take another PCR test at the airport and then spend their first 5 days in an approved quarantine hotel.
Local tourism chiefs are already calling for the number of permitted countries to be expanded, with the UK, Germany and France all mentioned and for the quarantine period to be reduced or removed.
Unconfirmed reports suggest that Indonesia is looking to add Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden and the UK to the list of permitted countries.
When the reopening was originally announced an 8 day quarantine was announced but this was recently reduced to 5 days. There are concerns however that quarantine of any length is an unacceptable requirement for many prospective travellers.
The trial run at Denpasar Ngurah Rai International Airport simulated a Garuda Indonesia flight from Incheon Airport, carrying 90 passengers and followed all the processes that will be faced by arrivals. These included:
- Body temperature check
- Examination of required health documents
- PCR test
- Baggage collection and customs
- PCR test results
- Transportation to quarantine hotel
Bali Businesses Wait For The Return Of Tourists
There are mixed feelings among business owners in the tourism industry on Bali.
Many are concerned that the numbers of tourists will be so small that it will not be worth their while to open or will do so at a loss.
Others like surf school owner Halfia Londa, are eagerly waiting for the return of tourists and the return of a once, good income. [Reuters]
Bali, where tourism accounts for more than half the economy, has been particularly hard hit by the pandemic. The once thriving holiday spot has been eerily quiet for months, with hotels, restaurants and beaches shuttered and thousands of hospitality jobs gone.
Tirta Mursitama, an expert in international business at Binus University, said now was the time to seize the opportunity to innovate in Bali’s hospitality and tourism sector.
“We know that every business is changing, so there’s a need to become innovative,” he said.
Halfia’s business at Kuta Beach is among hundreds of tourist businesses to have been crippled by the Indonesian government’s decision to suspend all international flights to and from the popular island destination from April 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The closure stripped away most of Halfia’s business virtually overnight, plunging her into debt. With very little income, she was evicted from her rented house and has been relying on the generosity of friends to get by.
“Just to be able to eat, I have to borrow money,” Halfia said, outside her surfboard rental shack on Kuta Beach. “We try to be economical, we eat twice a day without lunch … we try to always cook what we can eat for at least two days.”
Halfia has kept her board rental business open for the few local customers still around, offering two-hour rentals for 150,000 rupiah ($10) – half the pre-pandemic price.
“I hope that the arrival of tourists back to the island can give us a chance to work again, live our daily lives and to revive the economic opportunities,” she said.
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