Bali, Indonesia’s holiday island, reopened to foreign tourists on Thursday after an 18-month hiatus due to the pandemic, but the island is missing one critical component: international flights.
The government recently announced the reopening of Bali following a significant drop in coronavirus cases since July, when Indonesia was Asia’s COVID-19 epicentre.
However, new international visitors were nowhere to be found on Thursday.
Though the island’s Ngurah Rai international airport has conducted exercises to prepare for the return of tourists, little is expected to happen soon.
Bali, known for its surfing, temples, waterfalls, and nightlife, attracted 6.2 million foreign visitors the year before COVID-19 struck, but tight pandemic border restrictions have devastated tourism, which accounts for 54 percent of the island’s economy.
From January to June of this year, only 35 foreign tourists arrived at Bali’s airport.
On Thursday, shops and bars in downtown Kuta, just off its famous beach, were open but with few customers, while taxi drivers waited outside.
The details of the reopening are sketchy, and Indonesia has only identified 19 eligible countries late on Wednesday. India, China, Japan, South Korea, and a few of European and Gulf countries are among them.