Despite surging cases of COVID-19 around the world, two popular tourist destinations are gearing up to welcome international visitors again. But are Bali and South Africa setting themselves up for failure through a premature tourism reopening?
South Africa Will Re-Open To Worldwide Tourism
South Africa’s economy has struggled under the weight of COVID-19 and tourism accounts for about 8% of GDP and 10% of jobs. Last month, South Africa re-opened its borders to tourism from countries deemed non high-risk.
But South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that citizens of “all countries” will soon be able to visit South Africa:
We are also opening up international travel to all countries subject to the necessary health protocols and the presentation of a negative COVID-19 certificate.
— Presidency | South Africa 🇿🇦 (@PresidencyZA) November 11, 2020
A negative coronavirus test taken no more than 72 hours prior to travel will be required. Expect health screenings upon arrival and if travelers exhibit any signs of sickness, testing and potential quarantine will be required (at your cost).
Bali Hints At December International Tourism Reopening
To Indonesia, where tourist-dependent Bali has hinted that international tourism may resume as soon as next month. Tourism contributes 55-60% of the economy in Bali, making the economic threat of continued lockdowns and border closures an even more difficult dilemma.
But this week, Bali Governor Wayan Koster stated that he has been in discussion with the central government over re-opening borders. A memo from that meeting leaked to the press which noted a targeted opening of December 1, 2020. The opening to international tourism would apply only for entry through Bali Ngurah Rai International Airport (DPS). Visitors would be tested upon arrival then transported to a quarantine hotel until results were available, which would be available in as quickly as 3-4 hours.
Dewa Made Indra, the regional secretary of Bali, noted the fine balance at play:
“This is not about whether we are willing or not. If we are willing and permitted to open, we would have done it from way before because this is crucial for our economy. But the central government is still evaluating our readiness, so that we don’t open up and it results in cases escalating. If that’s the case we wouldn’t be benefiting, but incurring losses.”
Neither Balinese or Indonesian officials have made a formal announcement.
South Africa and Bali will likely soon be re-opened to international tourism. Expect testing prior to arrival or on arrival, potential limited quarantines, but finally a chance to visit two wonderful parts of the world. Testing is not foolproof, but both Bali and South Africa should serve as helpful test cases for wider scale reopenings of international tourism in 2021. Hopefully these reopenings will result in progress, not further setbacks.
Crazy simply crazy.
You would have to be INSANE to contemplate a trip to Bali over the next few months.
Would Australia even let you travel there?
Australian citizens. cannot leave Australia, they have not been able to since the end of March. There are exceptions but general International travel is not permitted and the airports are all but closed except skeleton services for absolute essential workers etc. So, no, no one in Australia will be vising Bali for a holiday until Australia’s International borders open which will probably not be until there is a vaccine.
I live in Bali. I stayed at Westin Hotel and Resort in Nusa Dua in September 2020, Royal Pitamaha Resort in Ubud in October, Trans Hotel in Seminyak and Sofitel Hotel and Resort in Nusa Dua this month. All hotels applying health protocols to prevent the spread of Covid-19. I was very comfortable staying at those hotels. They are ready to accept guests. Fyi, Bali has very low cases of Covid-19.
To me, it sounds like an ideal time to visit Bali. Wish I could…
No, the Australian borders remain closed. Even when they reopen, it’s likely there’ll be some form of quarantine requirement upon return
One million Australians go to Bali every year; that’s the lifeblood of the economy.
But there has been a surge in cases over the past few days, and with only 18000 tests/million ( cf Australia 380,099) there is a very strong likelihood that things will get much worse, very soon..
Australia is about to announce a major foreign aid initiative with a focus on the provision of vaccines for SEA countries ( most likely Indonesia, Timor L’Este, Cambodia, Laos, maybe Vietnam).
But likely mid ‘21 before Bali is back on the horizon.
It’s a very sad situation
The Balinese economy must really be reeling from the cessation of all tourism from Australia.
Perfect time to travel internationally. I’m going to Machu Pichu right after Thanksgiving. The lack of hoards of tourists is once in a lifetime. Hoping all the nervous nellies continue to sit at home. Maybe I need to plan a trip to Bali, too!
I had a last minute trip to Johannesburg last week. I have a pre-existing Business Visitor Visa (pre-COVID) so fortunately no issues with needing a new special DHA approval/exemption despite my passport being from a “high risk” red list country.
Flew in on Ethiopian and the PCR test results were checked before issuing my initial boarding pass, as well as before boarding for the connecting flight in Addis.
On arrival, the PCR test was checked at the door of the aircraft and then that was it. No further checks or questions. Health declaration form was collected just before immigration and the immigration officers were actually friendly and efficient. With no checked bags, it took me exactly 12 minutes from exiting the aircraft door at A3 to picking up my rental car from Avis.
Airport was an absolute ghost town with 90% of shops closed. Things are surprisingly normal in town though with most restaurants and offices functioning as usual but with enhanced protocols such as mask usage, hand sanitising stations and temperature checks.
On departure, all airlines have been relocated to check-in area “B” to conserve electricity. Most elevators and escalators are also shut down, so expect lengthy detours if traveling with luggage or needing wheelchair access. The only lounge open that I could find was the Mashonza Lounge via Priority Pass. Again, virtually nothing open other than the main Big Five Duty Free shop. Runway 3R was the only one in use for both arrivals and departures, so lengthy taxi times can be expected.
Wow, thanks for the great info! Time to plan a trip to South Africa also. So many great places to go now that are devoid of nervous tourists!
Did your negative COVID test result get scrutinized for authenticity? As long as it has the required signature of a health care practitioner, that should be enough no? Or should I laminate the test result paper to give it a more ‘finished look’? I know, silly questions… but I’ve been waiting to come across a comment like yours for a while now.
What hotel is pictured/painted at the top of the post?
Just a stock photo. Believe that is a CGI.
Hello, yes everyone have a choice where to travel.
Bali is safe but you must follow the protocol .
Due to time constraints I wasn’t able to visit South Africa during my trip to Mauritius last year. Will be checking updates now as to when the county will reopen for tourists. Thanks for the announcement!
Bali needs to open as quickly as possible to international tourism.
But proper checks need to be done
Australia also needs to open for certain countries plus a return to Bali asap!!!
Welcome to Tanzania the land of Kilimanjaro and Serengeti, a destination with a safe travel stamp from world travel and tourism.
I spent two weeks in PVR in October. In many ways, it’s very much like Bali. I had a great trip, worked during the week from my airbnb, ate outdoors, and enjoyed life. I get that many people would shame me for that, but at the end of the day PVR and DPS are pretty freaking similar.
This is a great announcement.
I hope this pandemic gone quickly and tourism sector over the world recover very soon especially for Bali.