Bali open to select visitors, but not Australians

One of Australia’s favourite holiday destinations reopened to international visitors on 14 October, after borders were closed for more than a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But Australia didn’t make the cut.

“We are open to several countries, including South Korea, China, Japan, United Arab Emirates and New Zealand,” said Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, Indonesia’s minister for maritime affairs and investment, adding that the island would reopen slowly to prevent the “unexpected” from happening.

Read: Indonesia’s ’10 new Balis’ project

In 2019, Australia was the top source of tourists for Bali, accounting for 20 per cent of the 6.27 million foreign visitors to the island that year. Chinese tourists, who made up the second largest group, will not be headed back in the near future, with China’s international border still tightly shut.

The list of countries able to fly in could be extended in coming days.

In an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, Indonesian minister of tourism and creative economy Sandiaga Uno said Australia was very important to Bali’s reopening plans.

“If you guys are ready to discuss [travel to Bali] I’m ready in 15 minutes. You are our number one tourist market and we need to make sure that you guys are comfortable before we initiate the discussions. But we’re ready anytime,” he said.

“You can choose your friends but you cannot choose your neighbour. You are our closest neighbour, our ally. We’re partners in this together.”

Read: Bring on the Bali bliss

Mr Uno said the initial reopening would focus on travellers and expats who used to live in Bali.

“The most important priority is the safety of the Indonesian people in terms of health and being protected from the potential spike in new cases of COVID-19,” said Mr Uno.

But there is a costly catch. International visitors must quarantine for eight days at their own expense and show proof they have booked a hotel for this purpose upon arrival.

Nearly 30 hotels have been certified as meeting strict criteria for quarantining of foreign arrivals; another 55 hotels are ready to be verified, and an additional 1853 hotels and restaurants have been rated as COVID-19 safe.

Are you keen to get back to Bali? Please share why or why not in the comments section below.

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Written by Ellie Baxter