Mixed messages on visits Bali first

JAKARTA, 11 October 2021: Bali is officially heading for the grand tourism reopening on 15 October, but much will depend on bringing Bali’s I Gusti Ngurah Rai Airport up to speed and providing incentives for airlines to resume flights from key source markets worldwide. 

An Antara report at the weekend noted that reopening the island on 15 October was the right step, saying it would pave the way for the resumption of international flights at other airports across Indonesia.

“We should first observe the international protocol on airport safety during the international flight resumption, and the health protocol should be strictly observed. If the trial period is successful, other airports could follow suit and reopen for international flights,” the Indonesia Transportation Society (MTI) Head for Advocacy and Social Affairs Djoko Setijowarno told Antara News last week.

Reopening Bali starts with the domestic market, and the introduction of more flights from Jakarta and other cities in Indonesia will send the right signals, but all eyes are on the start date for international arrivals and the resumption of flights from cities in Asia, particularly Singapore, Hong Kong, Seoul, Korea and Osaka and Tokyo in Japan.

Bali Update in an editorial this week warns: “Whatever the magic password is that will reopen Bali to international tourism, we wish someone would share it so the healing of the Island’s economy can begin.”

But are tourism officials, the island’s authorities and the national government singing off the same hymn sheet?

Bali will be “officially” open to nationals of five countries on 14 October. But that dramatic announcement will amount to little unless direct flights begin operating from those five countries to Bali.

Earlier, Coordinating Minister for Maritime and Investment Affairs, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, confirmed that I Gusti Ngurah Rai Airport would resume international flights from 14 October 2021

The minister suggested that initially, only citizens of five countries or cities would be allowed to enter Bali: South Korea, China, United Arab Emirates (Abu Dhabi and Dubai), Japan, and New Zealand.

Cok Ace, the deputy governor of Bali, announced that the island planned to focus on nationals from just four countries initially.

“We have already targeted several countries based on their length of stay in Bali. There are about four countries: the USA, the UK, Germany, and Russia whose citizens stay approximately two weeks in Bali.”