The travel issue |

When Will Bali Re-Open Its Borders to Foreign Tourists?

The Travel Issue | 9 July 2021

The Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy Sandiaga Salahuddin Uno made a working visit to Bali from 10 to 13 June to prepare for the reopening of the Bali border for foreign tourists, scheduled at the end of July, but now again uncertain as the surge in Covid cases continues across the country. Photos provided by Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy

The target of opening the Bali tourism sector for foreign tourists, which was originally scheduled by President Joko Widodo for July 2021,now looks over-optimistic that it will be achieved as the number of Covid-19 cases in several regions continues to increase. Minister Uno at that time was confident and stated that the preparations had entered the final stage and had reached 90 percent. Sadly this was not to be as the numbers escalated dramatically. 

“We continue to prepare for the recovery of tourism in Bali, of course, responding to the increase in Covid-19 cases in several areas, we continue to monitor the Covid-19 situation in Bali which is currently under control. I really appreciate Bali as a province that gets the highest percentage of targeted groups, the President’s order that 6 million doses of vaccine must be completed this July. The governor said that more than 50 percent of the vaccines had been distributed. In addition, starting in July, we will start the CHSE program and we are targeting Bali to double from last year, so 1,200 hotel and restaurant tourist destinations will be CHSE certified.” he said after meeting with the Governor and Deputy Governor of Bali on 10 June at the Jaya Sabha, Denpasar. 

As is well known, in 2019, the contribution of the tourism sector to the Bali economy reached 54 percent. However, due to the pandemic, economic growth in Bali was minus 9.3 percent cumulatively. This is the deepest contraction Bali has ever experienced. In this case the government continues to strive for the reactivation of Bali with three strategies. First, the acceleration of the vaccination program for the people of Bali, it is planned that 70 percent of the population of Bali can get vaccinations, namely as many as three million people from the total population of Bali which reaches 4.3 million people. Second, increasing CHSE certification and thirdly expanding the tourism grant program which this year was expanded and enlarged to IDR 3.7 trillion.

In addition to reviewing the implementation of the 2021 Bali Beyond Travel Fair at the Bali International Convention Center, Nusa Dua on 11 June and opening the 43rd Bali Cultural Week on 12 June, Minister Uno’s agenda was to hold a Coordination Meeting with all stakeholders at the Widyatula Building of the Bali Tourism Polytechnic. In the final coordination meeting of the preparation for the opening of Work from Bali this July, it was explained about SUN Bali, the three green zone areas of Bali, namely Sanur Ubud and Nusa Dua which became the pilot project and priority areas for opening foreign tourist routes. Minister also emphasized that the arrival of foreign tourists will also undergo a long process starting from vaccination, PCR testing and strictly implementing TCA.

Specifically to review the sustainability of the creative economy, the Minister held an interactive dialogue with Medium Small and Micro Enterprises MSME, one of the industries that had been badly affected during the pandemic, to hear input and obstacles faced by the actors. One of the MSME players, CV Suasty, who is engaged in manufacturing and trading bags, wallets and belts, which has a market share from France, Singapore, Australia, America and the UK, revealed that the Covid-19 pandemic had greatly affected their income, which previously had 15 businesses employees, but because of the pandemic to 7 employees. Likewise with JegegBagusButik, which is engaged in fashion, especially traditional fabrics, which has problems in product marketing, and Blumbungan Furniture, which has problems with access to capital due to wood prices that continue to rise almost every two to three months.

The Minister immediately responded and explained that MSME players could take advantage of the Government Incentive Assistance (BIP) program which was budgeted at IDR 60 billion. There are two categories of BIP, regular with a maximum assistance of IDR 200 million and BIP of the Business Safety Net (JPU) with a maximum assistance of IDR 20 million per beneficiary. In addition, there is a Local Creative Bali program which is expected to be able to open market access to local tourists through digitalization. Likewise with the Work from Bali program, because this program not only increases hotel occupancy rates but also 70 percent of these activities to support creative economy actors.

“The Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy wants to be responsive to attend and defend our brothers and sisters in need. And residents of Kuta District, Badung Regency so far have contributed so much to the tourism sector and the creative economy. Opening the airport is our priority.” Uno said. 

Sadly all these preparations have been disrupted by the serious increase in Covid cases since the meetings and we now await an update to the plan.