The Indonesian government has confirmed plans to open the country’s borders to international travellers around the midway point of this year. Bali is scheduled to reopen in July 2021, starting with three popular destinations: Sanur, Ubud and Nusa Dua. Tourism Minister Sandiaga Uno has also confirmed tourism sites in Batam and Bintan will reopen on 21 April, as part of a travel corridor arrangement with Singapore.
Indonesia’s President, Joko Widodo, recently outlined his plans to reopen in stages, to ensure a safe and careful return to normal. “With the designated steps by regional governments, the opening of the [tourism] sector in Bali can be carried out one-by-one, to [help the region] return to normal,” said the President during an inspection of Bali’s mass vaccination programme in Gianyar on 16 March 2021. District head I Made Mahayastra expects other regions to follow swiftly behind the initial travel bubble stage, and also outlined the long-term plan for the island. “Covid-19-free areas [in Bali] will be able to accept foreign tourists starting 17 August, 2021,” explained the local official. “It is still the trial stage, [then] in March 2022, the whole tourism in Bali will be opened to foreign tourists,” he added.
The news has been met with joy and relief by many in Indonesia’s beleaguered tourism sector. “We are delighted with the move signalled by President Joko Widodo to open Bali in June or July this year,” explains Panorama Destination’s own AB Sadewa. “We have been waiting for a year and it has not been in vain,” said the corporate secretary in a statement published by the Antara news agency at the end of March. “We hope the reopening of Bali can truly be realised in order to boost the recovery of the tourism and economy sector,” he added.
In preparation for the arrival of foreign tourists in Bali, the central government rolled out intensive vaccination programmes in each of the three locations on 22 March. At the time of writing, at least 47,045 doses have been distributed in the Ubud region, while Nusa Dua has received 87,715 and Sanur has been sent 35,727. Safety preparations also include travellers. “Everyone must follow procedures and stages, including PCR tests or vaccines prior to departure and arrival and quarantine programmes in three green zones in Bali,” said Sandiago Uno following an inspection of the Riau Islands. He confirmed they too have met the necessary requirements to reopen safely. “I’ve tried all the routes and we can immediately prepare this for the opening of the safe travel corridor with Singapore,” he said.
According to Uno, eligible overseas visitors may be issued with a special travel visa to join the programme. To ensure the safety of returning visitors, Bali, Batam and Bintan will all adhere to strict health protocols imposed by the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy, known locally as CHSE (Cleanliness, Health, Safety, Environment). To ensure the safety and confidence of both visitors and residents in Indonesia, completion of local vaccination programmes and the provision of ‘vaccine passports’ for foreign tourists will be key. As Sadewa explains, “this will certainly encourage travellers who want to vacation in Indonesia, while also boosting the level of acceptance of foreign tourists by the Indonesian people.”
With vaccinations nearing completion and safety protocols in place, three of Indonesia’s most popular holiday destinations will soon be back in business.