Bali plea for eased rules to lure back tourists

Bali plea for eased rules to lure back tourists

Synopsis

By Prime Sarmiento

Bali plea for eased rules to lure back tourists
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Denpasar – Bali, Indonesia’s most popular holiday destination, early this month reopened to foreign tourists but the hard-hit hotel and travel operators are still waiting for more arrivals. 

They say mandatory quarantine is keeping out the sun seekers that used to flock in their millions to the island before the pandemic prompted border closures two years ago.

Putu Winastra, chairman of the Association of the Indonesian Tour and Travel Agencies in Bali, fears that things may not improve in the foreseeable future because vaccinated foreign tourists are being put off by the quarantine of at least five days in a designated hotel. 

The island was reopened to tourism recently.

 

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Bleeding economy

Winastra has appealed to the Indonesian authorities to shorten the quarantine period for fully vaccinated tourists who test negative for Covid-19. 

He notes that almost all of the 4.3 million residents of Bali are fully vaccinated, reducing the risk of infection in the community. “Bali’s economy is bleeding. Many Balinese people have sold their assets to survive,” Winastra said.

Indonesia’s plans for Bali illustrate the difficult balancing act that all countries have to deal with as the world enters the third year of the pandemic.

Vaccination campaigns have encouraged Southeast Asian nations to slowly reopen their borders and try to shore up their travel tourism sectors and the wider economy.

This is especially crucial for Indonesia and the Philippines, another nation that rolled out the welcome mat for international visitors this month. 

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These two countries have reopened their borders to foreign tourists even though they have relatively high numbers of cases in Southeast Asia.

John Paolo Rivera, associate director of Andrew Tan Centre for Tourism at the Asian Institute of Management in Manila, said the costs associated with lockdowns when cases flare up far outweigh the benefits of opening borders to foreign tourists.

“Better distribution of vaccines across the globe is also critical,” he said.

The Philippines recently began allowing fully vaccinated tourists from 157 countries that have visa-free arrangements with the country. Tourists must present negative Covid-19 test results upon arrival.

Philippine Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat said over 7,000 fully vaccinated foreign travellers have since arrived in the country. She said these tourists were from the US, Canada, Australia, Britain, Japan, and South Korea, according to a report filed by online news site ABS-CBN.

In Indonesia, the country has also reopened the Riau islands to foreign visitors.

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Dicky Budiman, an epidemiologist at Griffith University in Australia, said that while reopening borders will entail a health risk, he believes that Bali is capable of mitigating the risk because of the island’s high vaccination rate.

Courtesy: China Daily

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