APSN Banner

Bali is among several Indonesian destinations welcoming tourists from next month - but don't pack your bags just yet

ABC News - June 3, 2021

Love it or loathe it, a trip to Bali is a rite of passage for many Australians. And now, it's among a handful of Indonesian destinations slated to reopen to international tourists within weeks.

In a statement issued by Indonesia's Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy, authorities announced the nation would look to partially re-open its borders to international visitors from July.

Under the plan, destinations including Bali, Batam and Bintan would become "locomotive" regions, in what the government hopes will "kickstart tourism for the whole country – if the pandemic is handled as well as expected".

"In preparation, the government has carried out a widespread vaccination program for targeted groups, including the tourism workforce," the statement said.

"In addition, the government has also initiated the Cleanliness, Health, Safety, and Environmental Sustainability (CHSE) certification program throughout the tourism sector in Indonesia."

It sounds good in theory – but can you actually go?

Don't pack your suitcase just yet

Before the pandemic hit, Australia was the top source of foreign tourists into Bali in 2019, followed by China.

But you can take off that Bintang singlet for now – Australian authorities have been clear not to expect much in the way of international travel until at least next year.

However, they have left the door open for more bubble arrangements like that with New Zealand, with last month's federal budget papers noting that quarantine caps will operate "with the exception of passengers from Safe Travel Zones".

Flagging the plan in March, Indonesia's Tourism Minister Sandiaga Uno said Australia was among several countries he hoped could be included in a "COVID-free corridor".

Whether or not that's likely, though – or at least, likely anytime soon – is yet to be seen.

Throughout the course of the pandemic, the south-east Asian nation – home to some 270 million people – has recorded more than 1.8 million confirmed cases, and in excess of 50,000 deaths, a figure researchers fear has been under-reported.

And while daily case numbers remain far from their peak, they are on the rise. On May 15, Indonesia reported 2,385 new cases – two weeks later, that figure doubled to more than 6,500.

Compounding the problem, testing for the virus also remains among the lowest in Asia.

Data shows testing has reached about 40 per 1,000 people in Indonesia, compared to 373 in Malaysia and over 2,000 in Singapore.

Okay, so who CAN go?

Last week, Mr Uno said the government was setting up travel corridor arrangements with seven countries in preparation for the reopening, the Jakarta Post reported.

They included Belgium, France, Russia, Singapore, the United Kingdom, the Netherland and Vietnam, whose ambassadors the minister has already met with.

"We hope that once the COVID-19 situation has become more conducive, the TCAs can be implemented within a short period of time," he said.

Indonesian media also quoted Mr Uno as saying he had received a letter from the Australian ambassador, and hoped to schedule a meeting soon to "discuss some of the latest issues regarding tourism and the creative economy".

Incoming tourists would be required to be in "good health, have met [travel] requirements and are ready to comply with all health protocols", the Jakarta Post quoted the minister as saying.

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-06-03/indonesia-to-reopen-to-international-visitors-from-next-month/10018683