The Bali officials hope to reopen the Indonesian island to international tourism from September 11th. Before travelers can return in large numbers, however, a tricky game of health diplomacy awaits them.
Also, 11th September is an auspicious day on Bali’s Hindu calendar.
Tjokorda Oka Artha Ardana Sukawati, Bali’s lieutenant governor and former chairman of the island’s hotels and restaurants association, tells CNN Travel that the date remains tentative but that reopening is vital to the island’s economy.
“The Covid-19 pandemic is the most devastating disaster for Bali tourism,” he says. “It is much worse than the Bali bombings, both the first and the second, and worse than all the Mount Agung eruptions combined.”
“We have seen from experience that reopening tourism destinations usually leads to an increase in the number of cases,” says Hadisoemarto.
“Even when Bali is open for worldwide tourism, then we’re speaking about worldwide journey to Indonesia,” says Hadisoemarto. “So it is a matter of worldwide belief for reopening flight connections.”
Currently, Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport has direct flights to only two international destinations: a mixed, often-canceled connection to Doha, Qatar, and a handful of flights to Australia (which is closed to inbound and outbound tourism).
Soejatman estimates that it will only take one to three weeks to open old pre-pandemic flight connections to Bali, but that negotiating and implementing a new international route could take up to three months under current conditions.
And until Indonesia demonstrates control over the pandemic, with falling case numbers and test levels that meet international standards, few governments and airlines appear to be accessible.
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