Hoping for a return to Bali this summer? Despite recent findings of new variants, Bali is still planning to re-open to foreign tourists by the middle of summer. But the final plan to welcome foreigners back to Indonesia may require not only proof of vaccine, but be restricted to a small handful of nations.
Bali Reopening Still Planned For July 2021
Tourism-dependent Bali, Indonesia has been closed to tourism for over a year. Plans to re-open in September 2020 were scuttled by new variants of the virus. While managing the COVID-19 pandemic well, Bali faces a difficult proposition: without mass vaccinations, the economy will continue to suffer.
While Bali continues to make progress in its vaccination efforts, the majority of residents have yet to be vaccinated. Bali is targeting a 70% vaccination rate in order to re-open in July. It has secured two million doses of the Sinovac and AstraZeneca with more to come later this month and in July.
As a result, Bali is sticking to its re-opening plan. Bali Deputy Governor Cok Ace told the Bali Times:
“We have yet to shift the target, there’s still a few months to go. A few days ago I was with [Health Minister] Budi Gunadi Sadikin and we are still holding on to our focus for reopening in July.”
In March, the governor of Bali, Wayan Koster, laid out plans for a new safe area within Bali that would allow the island to re-open to tourism in lower risk areas.
However, the impracticality of closing off certain areas while opening others has redirected the focus to vaccinations and travel bubbles.
This week, the Indonesian Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy announced the re-opening of all of Indonesia to tourism in July at the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Deputy of Minister for Tourism Marketing Nia Niscaya noted:
“By participating in ATM Dubai 2021, outbound tourism’s leading global event, we are demonstrating that Indonesia is confident of maintaining its position as a world-class destination.”
Destinations including Bali, Bintan, and Batam will serve as “locomotive” regions to jumpstart tourism for the entire nation.
Importantly, it is not yet clear whether travelers to Indonesia must be vaccinated or simply present a negative COVID-19 test.
Bali Travel Corridors
Recently, Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Sandiaga Uno noted three criterion that Bali is looking for in establishing travel corridors between countries. These countries must:
- contain the spread of the coronavirus
- have high vaccination rates
- offer reciprocal benefits
With Australian borders now closed until at least mid-2022, there is a shifting focus on China. Ace added:
“We can still hope for China, in terms of quantity, as they contributed quite a large amount of visitors in previous years.”
China was right behind Australia in terms of foreign visitors.
The reciprocal benefits issue could sink hopes of Europeans and Americans vacationing in Bali this summer.
However, The Jakarta Post recently reported Indonesia has held private talks with the following nations on creating travel corridors:
- United Kingdom
Talks are also ongoing with China, Singapore and South Korea.
Noticeably missing from the list is both Australia and the United States. Even if Indonesia opens borders to citizens of Australia, Australian citizens are currently not permitted to leave Australia without special permission (which is not granted for foreign tourism, except to New Zealand).
My guess is that Bali will re-open to most vaccinated individuals in July despite a slow rollout of vaccines. With only 6% of citizens in Indonesia currently vaccinated, the country has a long way to go. However, with many sectors of the Indonesian economy dependent upon international tourism, it is looking more likely that borders will widely re-open next month. But don’t book just yet.