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Indonesia’s Bali reopens for domestic tourists with modest ceremony

Tourists enjoying one of Bali’s many beaches. Photo - EPA. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

NUSA DUA, Aug 1, 2020, The Jakarta Post. After a five-month hiatus imposed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Bali was officially reopened for tourism in a modest ceremony in Bali’s tourism enclave of Nusa Dua on Thursday evening, The Jakarta Post reported.

Coordinating Maritime Affairs and Investment Minister Luhut Pandjaitan, Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Wishnutama and Bali Governor I Wayan Koster were joined by scores of dignitaries as they struck a kulkul (bamboo slit drum) to mark the reopening. Toward the end of the ceremony, they raised their hands in a joint toast featuring the island’s locally produced palm spirit of 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 said in his speech.

He stressed that the implementation of health protocol was a non-negotiable requirement for the reopening of the island for tourism and warned that the government might close down the sector again should one of the island’s regions be declared a red zone.

The reopening means that Bali reopened its doors to domestic tourists on July 31. In 2018, the number of domestic tourists exceeded 9.7 million, or 61.6 percent of the total number of visitors.

It is the second phase of the multistage reopening policy introduced by the Bali governor.

The first phase started on July 9 with the reopening of the island’s tourist attractions and facilities solely for the island’s own residents. The third and most crucial phase, in which the island will be reopened for international tourists, is to kick off 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,” Koster said.

The regulation prohibits the entrance of foreigners into Indonesian territory in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

Koster said he was convinced that Bali would be ready for the full reopening of tourism, an industry that accounts for more than 52 percent of the island’s economic.

“As of today, the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases has reached 3,360, [which includes] 2,788 recoveries, 48 deaths and 524 active cases. Bali scores a recovery rate of 82.98 percent, the second-highest in Indonesia, after West Sumatra. We are experiencing a positive development in dealing with the pandemic,” he said.

Koster stressed that tourist attractions and facilities across the island had implemented the required health protocols to ensure the safety of their patrons.

“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 said.

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