Hong Kong/Jakarta (DailyExpertNews) — Destinations around the world have experienced significant tourist cuts during the coronavirus pandemic. But few have taken a harder blow than Bali, the Indonesian island long beloved by world travelers.
Due to strict border control measures and a closed airport, Bali went from receiving millions of international visitors to just 45 in 2021.
Compare that to about 6.2 million international arrivals in 2019 and 1.05 million in 2020.
“That’s the lowest number of foreign tourist visits we’ve ever recorded,” Nyoman Gede Gunadika, chief of tourism for Bali province, told DailyExpertNews.
The two-digit number covers the period between January and October 2021 and has been confirmed by the Central Statistical Bureau of Bali.
To come to Bali, foreign tourists face strict Covid-related entry requirements. They must obtain a business visa for $300 (there are currently no tourist visas), undergo multiple PCR tests, and obtain special health insurance. In addition, the flight tickets are higher than usual due to the lack of direct flights.
One hopeful visitor is Justyna Wrucha, a British citizen who is planning a trip to Bali with her husband. It will be their first visit to the island, which she says has been on their bucket list for a long time.
“We think the government in Indonesia and Bali is being extremely tough on imposing a 10-day quarantine on fully vaccinated people,” Wrucha told DailyExpertNews.
Bali’s Covid policy regarding foreign visitors is governed by the central government in Jakarta, not the local authorities on the island. Quarantines were originally shorter but recently increased due to fears of the new Omicron variant.
Wrucha and her husband will arrive in Jakarta on December 26, quarantine for 10 days and then fly to Bali, barring any changes or last-minute issues. She says she has relied on social media, mainly Instagram, to keep up to date rather than official government channels.
“Before Covid, people from Europe and the UK loved Bali,” she adds.
Ray Suryawijaya, head of the Indonesian Association of Hotels and Restaurants in Bali’s Badung district, agrees with Wrucha.
“With all those barriers, it’s hard for us to expect foreign tourists to come to Bali,” he said.
However, there is a glimmer of hope with the gradual return of domestic tourism. Ray reports that the occupancy rate of hotels in Bali is now around 35%.
“About 13,000 domestic tourists visit Bali on weekends,” he adds.
While that little trickle of visitors is an encouraging note to end the year on, especially for the many Balinese residents who depend on tourism to support their families, it won’t be enough to save the 2021 season.
Bali beach photo by Putu Sayoga/Bloomberg via Getty Images.