Bali is now open to international travelers from 19 countries. However, the return of tourism is off to a slow start as there are still no direct flights to the island one week after Indonesian officials opened it up.

"We have given permission to 19 countries to be able to travel to Bali and the Riau Islands," Minister of Maritime Affairs and Investment, Luhut Binsar Panjaitan, said last Wednesday, according to CNN. Those places—chosen for their low COVID-19 positivity rates—are Bahrain, China, France, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Liechtenstein, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden and United Arab Emirates. All international travelers must be fully vaccinated, have insurance that covers coronavirus treatment, test negative, and quarantine at their own expense for five days upon arrival. 

Finns Beach Club, Bali
Bali saw a sharp decline in annual visitors in 2020 ©Emma Shaw/Lonely Planet

Though the international airport technically opened on October 14, there were no international flights scheduled then, the AP reported. And one week later, the situation hasn't changed. The airport's arrival schedule doesn't include any immediate direct flights and searches on Skyscanner and Google reveal no direct flights from a handful of approved countries over the next few days. Tourism officials, however, expect direct international flights to resume in late October/early November. 

“These things take time. These countries and the visitors need time," Bali governor I Wayan Koster said, per Reuters. “We hope that by end of October at the latest there will be incoming flights, whether it's a charter or commercial flight as signs of the start of tourism recovery in Bali.”

Before the pandemic, some 6 million people visited Bali on an annual basis; last year, that number dropped to just 1 million, according to the AP. Coronavirus cases surged in Indonesia this summer, peaking in July, but they’ve been declining steadily since early September. As of October 21, 32% of the country’s population had been fully vaccinated

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This article was first published Oct 15, 2021 and updated Oct 21, 2021.

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