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Bali dashes international travel hopes

Sunset over Seminyak, Bali.

A trip to Bali is now even further out of reach as the country u-turns on plans for a September reopening.

The island of the gods opened up to domestic travellers last month and it was suggested that if all went well, it would open to overseas guests on September 11.

However, any Kuta-bound travel plans were dashed today (August 24) when the government decided to wait until the end of the year before welcoming back guests.

“The government is still prohibiting its citizens from travelling abroad until at least the end of 2020,” said Bali governor Wayne Koster in a statement. “In line with this policy, we also cannot open the gate to international travel at least until the end of 2020 as the situation in Indonesia, including Bali, is not yet safe to welcome them.”

Like many Southeast Asian tourist hot-spots, Bali is stuck between a rock and a hard place. The Indonesian government is under pressure from the local tourism industry to reopen the island as domestic tourist revenue cannot make up for the shortfall left by a non-existent international market. However, if it does reopen, it needs to get it right or risk ruining its reputation globally.

“We cannot hurry… we need to be well prepared,” said Koster. “In attempting to recover tourism Bali should not fail, because it will badly impact the image of Indonesia in the eyes of the world.”

Eighty percent of Bali’s economy is reliant on tourism. It’s estimated that at least 2,600 people who worked in the tourism sector have now lost their job and around 73,000 people have been forced to take unpaid leave. Local charities are reporting huge line-ups for hastily constructed food banks, with many people saying they can no longer afford to feed themselves.

Indonesia is reporting 155,412 coronavirus cases since the beginning of the year and 6,759 deaths.


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