How Bali plans to reopen to tourists from October
Bali, one of Southeast Asia's most popular backpacking destinations, could reopen to tourists in October, the Indonesian government has said.
The Indonesian island, which closed its borders and suspended its visas-on-arrival policy in March, has reported some success in managing the coronavirus outbreak. As of Friday, the archipelago reported 343 cases and four deaths, a fatality rate of 1.2%, which is below the national average of 6.4%, according to Reuters.
If Bali manages to maintain low infection rates, the tourism ministry is hoping to reopen its borders with strict health protocols to international visitors from October. To safely reopen hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions, a new CHS (Cleanliness, Health, and Safety) program will be rolled out that sets out guidelines for increased health, hygiene and safety standards. It's hoped the program will restore visitors' confidence in the safety of Bali as a destination.
The luxury resort islands of Nusa Dua is earmarked as the first destination to trial the CHS program, according to a statement from the ministry of tourism, and will start to reopen businesses under the new guidelines. From June to October, the ministry will work on fine tuning the details to prepare Bali to safely welcome visitors by autumn. "Considering that Bali is a major tourist destination, it is necessary to take immediate and prompt steps to restore all affected tourism destinations," tourism secretary, Ni Wayan Giri Adnyani, stated.
There are also plans to reopen Yogyakarta soon, the Javan island famous for its Buddhist temple Borobudur, as well as the Riau islands, which rank second only to Bali as the most-visited destination in the country for international visitors.
The coronavirus pandemic has hit Bali's tourism-dependent workforce hard with almost all tourist destinations, attractions, and facilities suspended or closed since the state of emergency was implemented in March. I Ketut Ardana, head of Bali's branch of the Indonesian National Organisation for Tours and Travel (ASITA), told the ABC "80% of people in Bali rely on tourism whether directly or indirectly. All of us in the industry are really struggling right now, what we're waiting for is for this pandemic to end."
Elsewhere in Indonesia officials are struggling to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and this week the government has come under criticism on social media under the hashtag #IndonesiaTerserah (#IndonesiaWhatever). Indonesia has one of the world's lowest testing rates, according to the Telegraph and government officials have confirmed the data is incomplete.
Lockdowns are easing globally as the planet adjusts to a new normal. Find out how COVID-19 is changing travel.