The Jakarta Post
Tourists have their picture taken at Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali on July 31, 2020, the first day after domestic flights reopened after being temporarily closed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. (AFP/Sonny Tumbelaka)
Plans to reopen Bali to international tourists on Sept. 11 have been reconsidered following the government's decision to wait until the end of this year before welcoming foreign visitors.
"The government is still prohibiting its citizens from traveling abroad at least until the end of 2020. In line with the policy, we also cannot open the gate to international travelers until the end of 2020 as the situation in Indonesia, including Bali, is not yet safe to welcome them," said Bali Governor Wayan Koster in a statement Saturday.
According to Koster, there is no country in the world that has allowed its citizens to travel abroad. "Many countries in the world are still implementing tight restrictions on their citizens due to the still-spreading COVID-19 pandemic, which is threatening their citizens' health and safety."
"For example, Australia has not allowed its citizens to travel abroad until 2021. This is also the case for China, Korea, Japan and many European countries," Koster said.
Koster added that the government fully supported the province's plans to reopen to international travelers as part of tourism recovery efforts. "However, we should be careful, [we] cannot hurry [such a plan as we] need to be well prepared. In attempting to recover tourism, Bali should not fail, because it will badly impact the image of Indonesia in the eyes of the world."
Following the decision, Bali is said to be focusing on efforts to attract domestic tourists in a bid to smooth its way to tourism and economic recovery.
The pandemic has badly hit the province's local economy, 80 percent of which relies on tourism. Bali's economy contracted 10.98 percent in the second quarter of 2020. At least 2,667 people who work in the tourism sector have lost their job, and 73,631 people have been forced to take unpaid leave.
Previously, Bali was planning to reopen its tourism in three phases, starting on July 9 with the reopening of tourist sites to local residents, followed with reopening access to domestic travelers from regions across Indonesia. The third phase would have been to welcome international travelers on Sept. 11.
Since opening its doors to domestic travelers, Bali has seen an increase in tourist arrivals of more than 100 percent. As of Aug. 14, the number of domestic tourists arriving daily at Ngurah Rai International Airport in Denpasar reached between 2,300 and 2,500. (kes)
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