Indonesia’s most popular tourist destination, Bali, has reopened to domestic tourism after five months in lockdown as the sprawling 17,500 island nation continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic.
‘Officially reopened’ in a small ceremony in Nusa Dua on Thursday evening by Maritime Affairs and Investment Minister Luhut Pandjaitan, Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Wishnutama and Bali Governor I Wayan Koster, the reopening was marked by the striking of a ‘kulkul’ – a local form of bamboo drum.
The trio, along with a number of other attending officials then made a toast to the move using Bali’s famous locally produced ‘arak’.
“This is a historical day, and the decision to reopen the island was not made hastily. It was made after taking into consideration the number of people who have been discharged and recovered, the mortality rate as well as the fact that the island, with regard to the pandemic, now comprises green and yellow zones, no red zones,” Luhut was reported as saying in local media.
Whilst a well known tourist destination for foreign sun and sea lovers, in 2018, almost 10 million domestic travellers also visited the island, accounting for 61.6% of the total number of arrivals.
If successful, the next plan is to open the island to international tourists on Sept. 11.
“We urge the government to repeal Ministry of Law and Human Rights Regulation No 11/2020 to facilitate the implementation of the third phase of reopening,” the island’s governor, I Wayan Koster said.
Foreigners are currently banned from entering Indonesia to help counter the virus.
“The world is watching closely, and the success of Bali in reopening its tourism will greatly influence our efforts to resurrect Indonesian tourism,” Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Wishnutama added.
Indonesia to date has reported just over 106,000 total cases of COVID-19 with 5,058 deaths in a population of 268 million.