With more countries reopening their borders to vaccinated tourists, Indonesia set to mark its return with Bali, one of the country’s destinations that are set to reopen to international travellers by the end of July 2021.
It has been frequently hinted by President of Indonesia Joko Widodo and the Governor of Bali, I Wayan Koster. Several parties are already kick-starting preparations for the reopening and it includes the provision of CHSE (Cleanliness, Health, Safety and Environment) certification among the tourism players. As reported by Kompas.com, 975 tourism players in Indonesia have obtained the CHSE certification.
Bali is also preparing for the reopening with the administration of COVID-19 vaccine. The availability of free COVID-19 vaccines nationwide provides a sense of relief to Indonesian citizens. A few weeks before Indonesia marks one year into the pandemic, several vaccines have been widely distributed and the government has implemented four phases of vaccine roll-out.
Sinovac is the most widely distributed COVID-19 vaccine in Indonesia. Front liners are the first in line for the administration of the vaccine. Followed by journalists, senior citizens, and religious leaders. President of Indonesia Jokowi was the first person to receive the Sinovac vaccine on 27 January 2021.
A few weeks later, the Sinovac vaccine was made available to all Indonesian citizens. While some people have received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, the majority of citizens continue to wait patiently for their turn. Currently, the COVID-19 vaccine is prioritised in main cities in Indonesia, as well as areas with major tourist attractions.
As reported by Asia TTG, the Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy, Sandiaga Uno, emphasised the importance of Bali’s reopening as the destination is considered the backbone of tourism in Indonesia. Apart from Bali, minister Sandiaga also highlighted five priority destinations in Indonesia namely Lake Toba, Borobudur, Labuan Bajo, Mandalika, and Likupang. This effort was welcomed by the Governor of Bali, Wayan Koster and the Deputy Governor of Bali, Tjokorda Oka Artha Ardana Sukawati or commonly called Cok Ace.
The reopening of Bali is scheduled to begin in July, 2021 with pilot trials in three green zone destinations — Ubud, Sanur, and Nusa Dua. The vaccination campaign is being accelerated in the green zones to ensure the safety and comfort of tourists coming into Bali. COVID-19 vaccination programs have been held simultaneously in the three green zone areas in Bali, starting Monday (March 22, 2021), with the vaccines supplied by the central government. The central government has supported the supply of vaccines in accordance with the requirement of 170,487 doses, divided over three regions. At least 47,045 doses have been given to the Ubud region, 87,715 to Nusa Dua, and 35,727 doses to the Sanur region.
Sadewa said he is optimistic that opening Bali to foreign tourists could be a turning point for tourism recovery in Indonesia in general and help move the local economy, such as hotels, restaurants, and souvenir shops, and ensure health protocol readiness, or CHSE (Cleanliness, Health, Safety, Environment), as per the standards set by the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy. To maintain tourism sustainability, Sadewa said he hopes the government would roll out stimulus or incentives, especially for tourist agencies to help them restart operations that have been halted for over a year. Such stimulus measures, he said, can be in the form of a soft loan for capital, marketing cost incentives, relaxation for foreign tourists who come to Indonesia, and tourism grants.
He also said he is hoping for prompt implementation of ‘vaccine passports’ for foreign tourists who have received their shots, in order to reduce the risk of transmission. This will certainly encourage travelers who want to vacation in Indonesia as well as boost the level of acceptance of foreign tourists by the Indonesian people, he added. “We hope that Bali (tourism) will soon be revived if the vaccination process goes on every day. If the spread of COVID-19 begins to slow down, with the designated steps by the regional governments, the opening of the economic sector in Bali can be carried out one by one, especially the tourism sector, to (help the region) return to normal,” said President Joko Widodo while reviewing a mass vaccination program in Gianyar, Bali on March 16, 2021.
Governor Wayan Koster is planning to establish ‘green zones’ to the island in hopes of drawing more tourists. “The Bali government together with the Ministry of Health are planning to establish green zones. Domestic and international tourists are allowed to enter to this zone,” he said. Minister Sandiaga Uno also shared that the green zone areas will be in Nusa Dua, Ubud, Kuta and Nusa Penida – and these areas have low number of COVID-19 cases. Aside from the implementation of green zones, Governor Wayan Koster is also planning a ‘Free Covid Corridor’ with several countries. China is currently one of the top priority destinations to establish a travel corridor with Bali.
Deputy Governor Cok Ace said that the plan was made after China has implemented mass vaccination. According to Bloomberg, the Chinese government has provided more than 1 million vaccines since 19 December 2020. The Bali Provincial Government has requested the central government to prioritise vaccine administrations for tourism players in Bali, so that business travellers from China can travel safely and with confidence to Bali.
Last February, Southeast Asia’s first COVID-19 vaccine drive-thru opened in Bali, and it was initiated by tech companies, Grab and Good Doctor. The drive-thru vaccine is available at Grab’s Vaccination Centre, which is situated at the Nusa Dua Convention Center (BNDCC). This vaccine centre is supported by Indonesia’s Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy, the Ministry of Health, and the Provincial Government of Bali. This vaccine centre is targeting the vaccination of 5,000 employees in the tourism industry, public transport sector, and Grab drivers on Dewata Island. There’s also a future possibility that Grab will also open drive-thru vaccine centres in other cities.
Requirements for international travellers to enter Bali. As reported by Kompas.com, there are several criteria that international traveller must adhere before arriving through the Bali and China travel corridor:
- Already vaccinated against Covid-19
- Provide a Covid-19 certificate with negative test results
- Take another Covid-19 test at I Gusti Ngurah Rai Airport
- If the result is negative, international travellers can stay at hotels that are listed in the travel bubble program
- International travellers are only allowed to travel to certain areas in Bali
Despite the challenges we faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, the tourism industry in Bali continues to bolster efforts to promote Indonesia’s famous island destination. Recently, Bali was ranked first in TripAdvisor’s Travellers’ Choice Award for World’s Popular Destination category, which means Bali remains top of mind for travellers around the world.
Now that the majority of the tourism players in Bali, from hotels to restaurants, have also implemented the CHSE (Cleanliness, Hygiene, Security and Environment) protocol and receive certification from the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy, it’ll definitely boost travel confidence for post-Covid getaways. If you miss travelling as much as we do, the reopening of Bali will be something that you can look forward to this year. As we wait for better days to come, the stunning wonders of Bali will be there waiting for your return.