Following a long shutdown caused by Covid-19, Bali Ngurah Rai Airport in Denpasar officially reopened to international arrivals on 14 October. The news brings an end to 18 months of closure and disruptions caused by the pandemic, and signals the beginning of a new era for Indonesian tourism.
Indonesia is still finalising protocols and regulations for the return of the tourists themselves, and international flight schedules are yet to be confirmed. On 13 October, Indonesian verified 19 countries for entry to Bali. This list included China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand, along with various other nations from Western Europe and the United Arab Emirates. Australia was not included on the list. All arrivals will need to adhere to strict safety protocols.
“Every international arrival passenger must have proof of booking a hotel for quarantine for a minimum of eight days at their own expense,” said Luhut Binsar Panjaitan, Indonesia’s minister of maritime affairs and investment in a recent press conference. At present, other entry requirements include proof of vaccination and five days of quarantine upon arrival.
Currently, visas are only being given to foreigners deemed urgent and skilled workers, paramedics or investors. Foreigners married to Indonesians are also permitted. However, the inclusion of leisure travellers, along with more nationalities, is expected to follow in the weeks ahead, as Bali follows a step-by-step process for steadily reopening its doors to international tourism.
Representatives of national and regional government have expressed their eagerness to revive Bali’s tourism industry, following several months in which Covid-19 cases nationwide have been dropping and the vaccination rate continues to climb. “It is very much in our interest [to reopen] since tourism accounts for 54% of Bali’s economy,” explained Bali Governor I Wayan Koster in a video broadcast following the island’s revival on 14 October.
Although the island is technically open, additional details such as visa requirements, Covid testing and international flight schedules remain patchy. As a result, international tourists have been slow to return. It is hoped these details will be clarified in the coming weeks, so Indonesian tourism can put the pandemic behind it and finally get back in business.
“We are ready to accept tourists who visit Bali, but certainly it does not mean all the guests suddenly visit Bali,” said Ida Bagus Purwa Sidemen, executive director of the island’s hotel and restaurant association. “At the earliest, by the end of the year we can evaluate whether the situation has improved,” he added.