Bali will remaine closed to international tourists through the end of the year

Aug 25, 2020

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Editor’s note: As the travel industry reopens following COVID-19 shutdowns, TPG suggests that you talk to your doctor, follow health officials’ guidance and research local travel restrictions before booking that next trip. We will be here to help you prepare, whether you’re traveling next month or next year.

After reports that Bali might open its doors to international travelers as early as Sept. 11, Bali’s governor, Wayan Koster, said the island will remain closed until 2021 due to the “rising level of coronavirus cases,” according to Reuters.

Bali’s vice-governor, Tjokorda Oka Artha Ardana Sukawati, called COVID-19 “the most devastating disaster for Bali tourism,” CNN Travel reported.

Sukawati, who is also the former chair of Bali’s hotel and restaurant association, said the pandemic’s economic affect on the tourism industry is “much worse than the Bali bombings, both the first and the second, and worse than all the [2017] Mount Agung eruptions combined.”

For many reasons, the popular Indonesian island destination is eager to welcome back visitors. But a number of roadblocks bar the path.

Planning A visit to Bali? Read this first

Bali closed the doors on its primary industry early on in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, and Bali’s governor commented in May 2020 that “a lot of people were previously very worried that Bali would be badly hit by COVID-19 as it’s the largest tourist destination in Indonesia.”

Quick action and careful preventative measures, however, ended up painting “a totally different picture,” as Bali has only seen about 4,500 cases despite Indonesia’s COVID-19 numbers hovering around the 155,000-mark across a total population of 267 million.

Indonesia currently has the highest number of COVID-related deaths in the region (6,700) as of the time of publication. Governor Koster said in a statement the “situation in Indonesia isn’t conducive to allow international tourists to visit the country, including Bali.”

The country as a whole is still observing strict lockdown procedures in many areas. So, even though Bali is once again open for domestic tourism, international visitors will have to wait until the country reopens its borders to outsiders.

Assuming all the stars align by 2021, Bali will need to continue to keep its COVID case numbers low in order to make international tourism viable. Thus, many of the safety protocols in place may not feel particularly vacation-friendly.

Related: A country-by-country reopening guide

How to get there … if you can

Garuda Indonesia announced new direct routes in July that would operate between Bali and the U.S., France and India.

“The only way to boost foreign tourist visits is by introducing direct flights to Bali,” said Irfan Setiaputra, president of the Indonesian flag carrier. The airline executive stated that both the Indonesian Tourism Ministry as well as Garuda Indonesia are aligned on the need for direct flights between Bali and Los Angeles, San Francisco, Paris, Mumbai and New Delhi in order to drive higher numbers of tourists.

But the airline and the tourism board don’t seem to be aligned on timing. As of late August, Indonesia’s borders are still closed to outsiders and will remain closed through the end of the year.

Related: How to use Google Flights to plan your next trip

Bali has historically been a beloved destination for TPG staffers and readers alike. Check out our past posts on some of our favorite hotel properties in the region, including the Amankila, and the Ritz-Carlton Bali.

Featured photo by Nora Carol Photography/Getty Images.

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