Indonesia is planning to reopen Bali province to foreign tourists in July, according to an official Friday.
Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan said the government will also prepare a travel corridor, or travel bubble, with other countries to boost tourism arrivals.
“We have to set up the same parameters to establish reciprocal travel bubbles with other countries,” Luhut said at a virtual news conference for the 2021 Bali Investment Forum.
Indonesia closed its borders last year to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. , Exceptions were given to those who had special permission from Indonesian ministries or institutions.
The country saw a 75% decline in foreign tourists in 2020.
While Bali is at the forefront of a bid to revive travel and restore the economy, authorities last week brought up potential plans for COVID-19 “green zones” in Bali — areas where travelers can visit and stay.
Deputy Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy Angela Tanoesoedibjo said there would be requirements for countries that wanted to establish a travel corridor with Indonesia.
The countries must be able to keep infection rates under control and maintain significant vaccination progress.
Indonesia will also consider the availability of direct flights that connect Bali to those countries to reduce the risk of transmission.
“We will prioritize the quality of tourists in terms of longer duration of stay and higher expenditure,” she said.
Bali top priority for vaccination program
Bali Governor I Wayan Koster asked the central government to accelerate its vaccination program to support the reopening of Bali tourism in July.
There are about 3 million of 4.3 million people that need to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity, according to Wayan.
“However, so far, only around 300,000 people in Bali have received the COVID-19 vaccine,” he said.
Bali, where 54% of the population is from tourism, has seen significant job and income losses since it closed its borders last April.
In the last quarter of 2020, its economy shrank 12.21% year-on-year.
The province reported more than 38,000 coronavirus infections, including 1,000 fatalities.
*Writing by Maria Elisa Hospita