Indonesia is working on a pilot program to invite a limited number of tourists to the popular island of Bali in mid-June or July, authorities said.
Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Sandiaga Uno said in a statement that nationals of countries that the Jakarta government judges to be effective in running coronavirus vaccination programs and that will offer Indonesia reciprocity will be invited to participate in the program. Among the countries whose participation is under discussion, he mentioned the Netherlands, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore and China.
Three green zones have been selected in the program: two in the provincial capital, Denpasar, and one in the nearby town of Ubud. A certain number of foreign travellers will be able to fly their onboard charter flights subject to a restrictive sanitary protocol.
In recent weeks, Indonesian officials, including the ministers of health, tourism, foreign affairs and the provincial governor of Bali, have discussed strategies to revive the country's tourism-dependent economy.
President Joko Widodo said the island would be able to open borders to foreigners by the middle of the year provided the Covid-19 pandemic is under control there. Minister Sandiaga Uno clarified that for this to happen, at least 2 million inhabitants must be vaccinated by July. More coronavirus testing enhanced contact tracing, and local hospital capacity will also be needed.
In October, the authorities of Bali estimated that as a result of the pandemic, 75,000 its inhabitants lost their jobs or were forced to take unpaid leaves. In order to support their families, many of these people started hiring jobs on construction sites, fields, or selling in the streets. According to the Jakarta Post daily, about 60% of the province's income came directly from tourism and another 20% was indirectly generated by it.
As reported in January by the Jakarta Globe portal, the island can now count almost exclusively on Indonesian vacationers, and only 20% of hotels are occupied. places. The number of incoming foreigners dropped to less than a hundred people per month. According to government data, just before the pandemic - in January 2020 - there were 543,000 arrivals. people with foreign passports.
With over 270 million inhabitants, Indonesia is the largest country in Southeast Asia and the most heavily affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Coronavirus infection was detected in over 1.4 million Indonesians, and nearly 39,000 died. patients.
From Kuala Lumpur Tomasz Augustyniak (PAP)