15th June 2020
Indonesia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Tourism have discussed some essential points on reopening several destinations, including Bali for a new program called ‘travel bubble’. The term’ travel bubble’ refers to an agreement between two or more countries that are succeeding in curbing virus outbreak, allow each other to open their borders and resume the regular travel activities among the members.
There are four countries that Indonesia’s government now targeting to establish ‘travel bubble’: Australia, Japan, South Korea and China. These countries are appraised for their attainments in handling the pandemic and entering a new phase so-called the new-normal period. Australia and China are also notably crucial for Indonesia tourism businesses, specifically for Bali. More than two million tourists came from both countries last year to the island, while Japan and South Korea have shown a significant increasing trend.
Several countries have implemented this program such as Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia; they name the application as ‘Baltic travel bubble’. Greece, Germany, Israel and Cyprus are also expected to be in the first batch to allow visitors from neighbour countries without undergoing a quarantine session. Still, there could be subject for some random testing.
However, critics have raised concerns over a premature opening up the travel industry. The confirmed Covid-19 cases in the country have not shown a sign to slow down. The head of Bali Tour and Travel Agencies Association (ASITA), I Ketut Ardana, explained that the tourism industry on the resort island is vigilant since local transmission of the coronavirus still happening. He also advised the government should carefully decide on whether or not to reopen tourist destinations (2/6). “If we take the wrong decision, the impact can be awful for Bali,” he said. “That is why we must be cautious [in making the decision] and be more patiently wait until the situation has improved.”
Bali has recorded 741 positive Covid-19 cases as of Sunday (14/6) afternoon, with six deaths and 474 recoveries. The provincial administration has reported an increasing number of local transmissions cases recently, particularly in the four regencies of Badung, Denpasar, Klungkung and Tabanan. This figure is relatively small compared to more than 38,277 cases and 2,134 fatalities in Indonesia.
I Ketut Ardana added “If the virus transmission curve is flattening, we maybe start preparing for reopening. But now, the local transmission is still happening, and of course, that is one of our fundamental considerations, also increasing our visitors’ trust in Bali’s safety is the key for a recovery in the industry”.