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It'll be a cautious start as Bali reopens to foreign visitors


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With no foreign flights booked, the much-anticipated re-opening of Indonesia's famous tourist island Bali has gotten off to a slow start.


Fully vaccinated travellers from 19 countries, including China, India, and France, can enter Bali as of Thursday.
The United Kingdom is not on the list.


Visitors must, however, complete a five-day quarantine in a hotel.


The international airport was closed in April of last year to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

 

Indonesia became the epicentre of Covid in Asia in July, but daily incidences have dropped dramatically since then.

 

The tourism industry is now hoping that some of the 6 million foreign visitors that came to the island in 2019 before the outbreak will return.

 

According to health ministry data, the island boasts one of the highest immunisation rates in Indonesia, with more than 82 percent fully immunised.


On Thursday and Friday, however, there were no international aircraft planned to land at Bali's Ngurah Rai airport, according to flight tracking website Flightradar24.

 

"I Gusti Ngurah Rai Bali Airport has still not received any international flight slot requests, whether for flights to or from Bali, as of today.
However, the national COVID-19 task group has issued directives stating that Bali is now an entry point for international planes into Indonesia "Taufan Yudhistira, the airport's spokesperson, told the Reuters news agency.

 

Officials said they expect hotel and flight bookings to rise up over time after releasing the entire list of countries on Wednesday evening.


There were also reports that there were few specifics about the re-opening, including visa requirements.

 

'Burden for tourists'

Hotels, restaurants, and other tourist-oriented companies have been preparing for the re-opening.


Asih Wesika, the deputy chair of the Indonesian Entrepreneurs Association (Apindo) in Bali, told BBC News Indonesian earlier this week, "This is very fantastic news, it's extremely promising to rebuild the economy in Bali."


He was concerned, though, that the quarantine requirement would be a "burden for tourists" and deter many visitors.
Most visitors, such as the Chinese, who accounted for the second biggest number of tourists prior to the pandemic, come to Bali for a short time.

 

"Now that they must be quarantined and must incur the cost on their own," he continued, "this becomes an even more expensive vacation expenditure."


I Putu Astawa, the head of the Bali tourism agency, told BBC News Indonesian that the Covid situation was still "dynamic."
"If a new variety emerges, we must proceed with caution as we assess subsequent developments," he said.


However, he stated that the government was considering decreasing the quarantine period to three days, and eventually eliminating the rule altogether.

 

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