Bali was supposed to be reopening to the world in September. Now, with cases rising across the Indonesian island, that won’t be happening until at least early 2021 according to its governor, Wayan Koster, who announced the move in a statement on August 22.
The original plan, back in early July, was for Bali to allow in Indonesians from elsewhere in the country on July 31, with foreign arrivals permitted (via tourist visas or visa waivers) from September 11. The domestic phase is still happening as planned, and several thousand people have been visiting the island each day during the summer, but international travelers won’t be allowed in during 2020 due to the pandemic.
Tourism plays a huge part in Bali’s economy, with as much as 70 percent of the population reliant on it, according to the Association of the Indonesian Tours and Travel Agencies Bali.
Koster’s statement acknowledges the cost to the economy resulting from the dearth of visitors, citing “ceased tourism,” a decline in income for local businesses, and a lack of demand in “hand-made crafts” for its economic contraction and job losses. But the governor also insisted that the “situation in Indonesia isn’t conducive to allow international tourists to visit the country, including Bali,” and cautioned that the country mustn’t reopen early and affect its global reputation. Koster also pointed out that Australians, who make up a huge proportion of visitors to Bali, are themselves not allowed to travel until 2021.
Indonesia has reported 155,000 coronavirus infections and 6,759 deaths since the pandemic began, Southeast Asia’s highest figures, while Bali has had 4,576 infections and 52 deaths, Reuters reports.
Many resort workers have returned to farming and fishing, with one yoga teacher who returned from a top resort to the family farm telling the New York Times that “everything is returning to the old time.”