In the neverending ebb and flow of tourism reopenings and closures, vacation hotspot Bali has become the latest destination to flip-flop its stance on international visitors. While the Indonesian island had reportedly intended on opening its borders to foreign travelers in September, an Aug. 22 statement by Bali’s governor, Wayan Koster, indicated that the island would only allow domestic tourism through the end of the year.
The statement cites Indonesia’s temporary bans on foreign arrivals and international travel for citizens as primary factors in the decision to keep Bali closed. “The situation in Indonesia is not conducive to allow international tourists to visit Indonesia, including Bali,” Koster said in the statement.
As of Aug. 25, Indonesia, a country of 270 million people, has reported 157,859 infections and 6,858 deaths, with hundreds of new cases being reported each day. Bali, on the other hand, has reported just 4,034 cases with 49 deaths as of Aug. 22. The island has a population of just over 4 million.
Bali’s primary industry is tourism, with six million tourists visiting the island each year, many of whom come from Australia, which is currently banning its citizens from overseas travel. Per Koster’s statement, 2,667 tourism workers have been laid off, and 73,631 are furloughed without pay—the island’s economic growth declined more than 10 percent in Q2 of 2020. Domestic travelers are, however, flocking to Bali, with between 2,300 and 2,500 people per day arriving at I Gusti Ngurah Rai airport.
There is currently no indication of an international reopening date for Bali. In the meantime, officials are observing the development of the pandemic. “Principally, the central government supports the Bali province government’s plans to recover tourism by opening the doors to international tourists. However, this requires . . . careful preparation,” Koster said. “Bali’s tourism recovery efforts must not fail because it will have a bad impact on Indonesia’s and Bali’s image internationally, which will be contra-productive to the tourism recovery initiatives.”