Six weeks after reopening, Bali wants to know where tourists are | Coronavirus pandemic news

Pererenan, Bali – Before the pandemic, Dicky, who had only one name like many Indonesians, peddled shell craft jewelry to tourists on the crowded beaches on the southwest coast of Bali, earning as much as US$20 a day.

But nearly two months after Indonesia reopened to tourists from China and 18 other countries, Dicky still had very few international tourists who had relied on sales.

“I came here at eight in the morning and walked around on the beach all day. I tried, tried, tried, but I didn’t sell a single piece all day,” he told Al Jazeera, last weekend A dazzling blood-red sun set on the Indian Ocean at Pererenan Beach. “I don’t understand why Bali is reopening now and why no more tourists are coming.”

Dicky is not the only person on the island who is puzzled by the fact that no international flights have landed in Bali since the reopening of the international airport on October 14. The island’s COVID-19 indicator — almost the lowest on record since the pandemic began — will only add to the problem.

According to data from the National Disaster Management Committee of Indonesia, the 7-day average of new positive cases in Bali is now 11, the 7-day average of deaths is only 1, and the 7-day positive rate of test subjects is 0.17%-okay low The minimum threshold of 1% for areas classified as virus-controlled by the WHO. According to data from the Indonesian Ministry of Health, the number of vaccines is also much higher than the world average of 42.7%, and more than 77% of adults in Bali are fully vaccinated.

However, according to the Indonesian General Directorate of Immigration, only 153 people worldwide applied for tourist visas six weeks after the country reopened.

The low interest reflects a survey conducted by the International Air Transport Association, which showed that 84% of people have no interest in vacationing in destinations that require isolation, and Indonesia has implemented a mandatory hotel isolation measure, which recently targeted Omicron The variant has been extended.

I Gusti Ngurah Mahardika, Bali’s most senior virologist and professor at Udayana University, said: “Even after a short quarantine, no one will come to Bali.”

Confusing, complex, constantly changing, and sometimes conflicting government information and immigration policies also discourage international tourists.

Thailand has renewed its policy of providing free visas on arrival for tourists, but tourists who want to visit Indonesia must apply for visas at foreign embassies and consulates and require travel agencies as guarantors. They must show proof of booked accommodation during their stay in Indonesia-this is a reliable way to eliminate wanderlust from any brave traveler.

The Bali statistician Jackie Pomeroy wrote in her popular “Bali Covid-19 Update”: “The government has not clearly stated what goals it is Process or a simple guide for potential visitors.” Facebook page.

Since the country reopened to tourists six weeks ago, only 153 people have applied for tourist visas to Indonesia [Al Jazeera]

In November, as many as 20,000 Indonesians flew to the island every day, which dealt a blow to the domestic tourism industry, so the restrictions were re-imposed from December 24 to January 2.

Beach clubs, restaurants and nightclubs cannot host Christmas events or celebrate New Year’s Eve, and voices on social media worry that all leisure travel in Indonesia will be banned during the peak holiday season.

Travel apartheid

Less than a month ago, Professor Gusti advised Indonesia to completely abolish the quarantine of vaccinated international travelers who tested negative before departure and on arrival. But that was before the WHO identified Omicron as a worrying variant, putting the radioactive wrench into the long-awaited restart of the global tourism industry.

On November 28, Indonesia responded to the measures taken by the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States to prohibit entry of non-residents from South Africa or any of the eight other African countries. It also bans travelers from Hong Kong, which has reported a fourth case of Omicron variant. However, it did not ban travelers from the United Kingdom. As of Sunday, the United Kingdom had reported 246 cases of this variant-UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres described this subconscious policy as “travel apartheid.”

Indonesia has also extended the quarantine period for all immigrants from other countries from 3 days to 7 days. Less than a week later, it was extended again, this time to 10 days, which was the longest isolation period in Indonesia since the pandemic began. The strict new regulations forced the country’s national airline Garuda to cancel its first international flight from Haneda Airport in Japan to Bali on December 5th in 20 months. The subsequent weekly flights have also been removed from the airline’s website.

These developments hindered Bali’s hopes of reviving tourism this year, which accounted for approximately 60% of economic activity before the pandemic. The island’s gross domestic product (GDP) shrank by less than 3% in the third quarter, and contracted by nearly 10% in 2020.

Indonesia’s GDP grew by 3.5% over the same period, making Bali the Indonesian province most economically affected by the epidemic for two consecutive years.

With its unique culture and natural beauty, Bali became the most popular destination for foreign tourists visiting Indonesia before the pandemic.The country has successfully suppressed the virus, but few tourists return [Fikri Yusuf/Antara Foto via Reuters]

The management consulting firm McKinsey & Company made predictions in June based on various scenarios that tested the effectiveness of virus control. The global tourism monster that once fed Bali may not rebound until 2024 until 2019. level.

Observers in Bali felt the same way.

“History shows that Bali has strong resilience to disasters, but it will take a year or two for the island to recover,” said Mark Ching, director of the Tamora Group, a well-known real estate developer on the island. “It’s not just about opening borders. People need to feel safe before they travel again.”

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