Why Bali Reopens Despite Soaring COVID?
Despite a record-breaking soaring in COVID-19 Omicron cases, Bali restarted international flights on Friday, 04 February 2022, with the arrival of a Garuda Flight from Narita carrying a meager load of 12 Japanese passengers. Singapore Airlines will soon follow suit, recommencing daily flights to Bali on 16 February. There are also reports that Batik Air has made a formal request to operate international flights to Bali.
As reported by Kompas.com, the Minister of Tourism and the Creative Economy, Sandiaga Salahuddin Uno, has assessed that Bali is ready to welcome international travelers.
Bali has issued “Indonesia Care” certification to 2,212 companies on the Island, thereby ensuring Cleanliness, Health, Safety, and Environmental Sustainability (CHSE) protocols are in place and strictly applied.
In a formal release to the press, Sandiaga commented, “It’s been two years that Bali – the backbone of National Tourism, has experienced significant contractions in economic growth.” Continuing, the Minister said: “Even though vaccination (rates) in Bali are very good, the application of health protocols must remain firm and disciplined. Please increase the public’s awareness and caution in all their activities and increase the use of the PeduliLindungi Application.”
The Minister is hopeful that the reopening of international flights landing in Bali will provide the momentum needed to revive the economy and create more employment opportunities.
Data from the National Bureau of Statistics (BPS) state that the pandemic precipitated the Balinese economy contraction Q1-Q3 2021. IN 2019, estimated foreign exchange generated by tourism in Bali hit US$5.59 billion, an amount equivalent to 28.8% of total foreign exchange earning in Indonesia of US$19.35 billion
The Tourism Minister said the long-awaited reopening of international flights to Bali was signaled with landing a Garuda Indonesia flight from Tokyo on 03 February 2022. “The opening of international flights to Bali represents one effort by the government to bring success to international events to be hosted in Bali and other cities, such as the G20 Summit, MotoGP, and the ASEAN Summit 2023,” said Sandiaga.
Earlier, the Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment, who also serves as the COID-19 Czar, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, reminded that all the international tourists coming to Bali must undergo the five-day quarantine following the current instructions issued by the Minister of Home Affairs. “I hope that these efforts will prove a great help to the people’s economy of Bali and help it revive. I also ask that all parties truly follow all health protocols established by the COVID-19 Task Force.
Bali Reopens – Australia Ends Travel Lockdown 21 February
Australia has announced that vaccinated international travelers holding a proper visa will be welcome to visit Australia again, commencing 21 February 2022. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the opening of Australia’s international borders on Monday, 07 February 2022
The announcement comes almost two years after Australia went into lockdown in March 2020 when it refused to allow non-citizens entry to Australia as a measure to reduce the threat posed by the coronavirus.
Quoted by Channelnewsasia.com, Morrison told a press conference: “If you’re double vaccinated, we look forward to welcoming you back to Australia.”
However, the reopening of Australia’s international borders will be largely dependent on a concomitant relaxation of border and COVID-19 controls in the region and in countries that serve as the traditional source of international travelers to Australia.
Surrounded by water with no overland access, Australia can only be accessed when Australian-flagged air carriers and foreign airlines can profitably resume flights to and from the Country.
The returning flow of travelers to Australia on the tails of relaxed border rules will provide desperately needed financial relief to Australia’s aviation, hotel, and other elements of the tourism industry laid low by international and domestic lockdowns and travel curbs.
The Prime Ministers’ announcement is credited with a surge in stock market prices for travel and airline stocks. Channel News Asia reports that Qantas shares increased 5% in price, and Flight Center surged more than 7% in afternoon trade following the announcement.
The move to reopen Australia’s borders is happening against the backdrop of surging new cases of COVID-19 in Australia attributed to the fast-spreading Omicron variant. The reportedly less severe nature of the illness afflicting those infected with the Omicron variant and the sudden drop-off in new infections reported on Monday, 07 February 2022, have colored the Australian government’s decision to reopen its borders at this time.
The two-year lockdown has not only essentially prevented foreign visitors from coming to Australia, but it has also resulted in distress to many Australian families prevented from returning to Australia or traveling on an inter-state basis.
The Prime Minister’s office says the latest decision will eliminate almost all travel restrictions as Australia ends its “COVID-zero policy” and see exasperated officials abandon “track-and-trace procedures” – mainly rendered meaningless by the rapid spread of Omicron.
Before the appearance of the Omicron variant in November 2021, Australia recorded only 200,000 COVID cases. However, since Omicron Australia’s November 2021 arrival, infections have increased and skyrocketed to 2.4 million cases.
Australia has recorded 4,248 deaths over the past two years linked to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bali Reopens – Bali Needs More Sports Tourism
The Tourism and Creative Economic Minister, Sandiaga Uno, view more sporting events in Bali as key to revitalizing the Balinese economy.
Quoted by Tempo.co, speaking in Nusa Dua, Bali, on 05 February 2022, Sandiaga said: “We have just participated in an event for the revival of Bali’s tourism and economy. We also contributed to the Governor’s Charity Golf Tournament and saw the enthusiasm of creative economy players, 70 percent of which are from outside Bali.”
The Tourism Minister described the recent golf tournament as forming part of the government’s increased concern for sports tourism, especially on the island of Bali.
The Minister said that the Bali Provincial Government is preparing a sprint rally and speed rally race circuit on a 150-200 hectare plot of land in the Jembrana Regency to be managed by the Snagiang Regional Plantation Company.
Describing the natural beauty of the Jembrana area of Bali, Sandiaga added: “Sports tourism is not only presented in Badung but also in Jembrana because we have initiated a circuit that will use our Special Allocation Funding (DAK). We will build it together in Jembrana District, and this will hopefully become a cue for economic revival.”
The circuit will employ 300 workers.
“I have also been informed that the Oceanman race will be back in the title in June in Sanur. But, most interestingly, I am also informed of the World Cup For Ocean Open Water Swimming at the end of the year. This is a world-class (event), and it is possible to be present in Bali. So, it will be part of the economic revival for Bali along, including better control of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said the Tourism Minister.
Bali Reopens – Soft Restart Trans Sarbagita Bus System
As reported by NusaBali.com, The Trans Sarbagita Bus System (Denpasar-Badung-Gianyar-Tabanan) that ceased service in 2018 has now recommenced limited operations along the corridor GOR Ngurah Rai (Denpasar) -Jalan PB Sudirman (Denpasar) – UNUD Campus Jimbaran (South Kuta)-Nusa Dua.
The restored bus service will primarily provide transportation support for UNUD Collegiates and tourism workers in Nusa Dua.
The head of the Transportation Service for the Province of Bali, I Wayan Gede Samsi Gunarta, said on Tuesday, 01 February 2022, that The Trans Sarbagita Bus System was initially launched in 2011 by then-Governor Made Mangku Pastika with an armada of 33 busses. In late 2018, Governor Wayan Koster, due to a lack of passengers, suspended operations of 23 busses while revealing the public transport system was losing an estimated Rp. 18 billion each year.
Although Governor Koster initially retained ten operating busses for The Trans Sarbagita Bus System to serve students and tourism workers, the remaining busses were later removed from service. Subsequently, the province introduced the new Bus Trans Metro Dewata Bus System to provide limited public transportation service.
Gunarta told NusaBali.com that after a year of sitting idle and parked, a decision was made to again operate the ten busses of The Trans Sarbagita System due to popular demand from the public and the current gradual relaxation of limitations on public movements during the continuing pandemic.
The Bus Trans Metro Dewata is now serving other bus routes in Bali.
The province has prepared a budget allocation of Rp. 1.5 billion to subsidize the redeployment of 10 Trans Sarbagita Busses under a private operator on the single corridor.
The bus tariff on the single corridor now operated by The Trans Sarbagita System is Rp. 3,500 per person. University and other students are allowed to travel without charge.
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