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Bali battles to bounce back amid lack of international tourists

Low numbers of foreign tourist arrivals to the Indonesian island of Bali are holding back the pandemic recovery of Australia's pre-pandemic favourite holiday destination, which is relying mostly on domestic tourists under the looming cloud of Omicron.

Low numbers of foreign tourist arrivals to the Indonesian island of Bali are holding back the pandemic recovery of Australia’s pre-pandemic favourite holiday destination, which is relying mostly on domestic tourists under the looming cloud of Omicron.

In October, the Indonesian authorities reduced COVID-19 restrictions and reopened to foreign tourists, and two months on, Bali is showing signs of economic improvement.

Its exports for October 2021 are up on October 2019, according to the National Statistics Bureau (BPS), and tourism remains the island’s main industry and its biggest moneymaker.

The recovery is not consistent across the board, however. In Canggu area, bars and clubs are full into the night, whereas further south in Kuta, shops remain shuttered.

According to the BPS, only 45 foreign tourists flew directly into the island’s international airport between January and October 2021, however, it is not known how many more arrived on the island from Jakarta.

In October, some 151,000 foreign tourists arrived in Indonesia, some 1,260 fewer than in the same month of 2020.

The recovery of international tourism in Bali, which received 6.2 million foreign tourists in 2019 and 1.06 million in 2020, is still a long way off.

Bali_Ubud
Ubud, Bali

However, hotel occupancy in October reached 17.73 per cent, compared to 9.53 per cent in October 2020, and the number is expected to rise in the high season (July-August) and as Bali hosts the G20 Summit in October.

But worries over the new COVID-19 variant Omicron spreading around the world loom over the island’s recovery.

The pandemic hit the tourism industry the hardest and has had knock-on effects. Some workers were left with no choice but to find several jobs or return to work in their fields in their home villages.

With a sluggish international reopening, some locals say tourists are “very helpful for Bali because even though they are also in crisis, they still have spare funds for a vacation.”

Bali opened its doors to fully vaccinated international travellers from South Korea, China, Japan, United Arab Emirates and New Zealand from October 14th.

There has been no set date announced yet as to when the island will reopen for Australian travellers.

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Source: AAP