Aussies lead Bali rebound
From the poolside comfort of the Westin Resort Nusa Dua where I stayed for a few nights, things were so bubbly and ready to go – and the staff so upbeat and positive – it was hard to comprehend the financial wreckage that Bali endured, given that tourism accounts for 80% of its economy.
In a sign of the importance of restarting the Australian market, the Governor of Bali, Dr I Wayan Koster, hosted a lavish dinner with Australian and overseas media to argue that Bali must move on from COVID-19 to ensure that it can thrive again.
“Bali has a very positive handling of COVID-19, and we are committed to maintaining these good results so that we can ensure Bali is open to all nations with fewer restrictions,” he said.
In March, travelers faced a number of restrictions upon arriving in Bali which have since been eased.
To travel to Indonesia from Australia today, you must have had at least two vaccinations, according to the Australian government’s Smartraveller website. Upon arrival, you must also show proof of a negative COVID-19 (PCR) test, taken within 48 hours of departure.
Children under the age of six are not required to be vaccinated to enter Indonesia, but partially vaccinated children between the ages of six and 17 may be required to be vaccinated by local authorities.
For those looking to travel to Bali during our winter, rest assured that time hasn’t stood still since March 2020.
A number of swanky new hotels have now opened, including Raffles Bali at Jimbaran Bay, and the Four Seasons Jimbaran Bay has reopened its Healing Village after a multi-million dollar makeover. In Ubud, the 18-room Titik Dua has now opened, in a modernism-influenced design by famed Indonesian architect Andra Matin.
Scheduled to open in June in northern Ubud is Buahan, the Banyan Tree Group’s first property in Bali under its new Escape brand. With just 16 wooden villas and a semi-open floor plan, the focus is on ‘exclusive camaraderie’, including open kitchen and living areas designed to foster a sense of community and openness to the outdoors. . The menu will be 70% plant-based, with most ingredients grown locally.
Bali will only experience a full rebound when nearly 6.3 million international tourists return – the number of visitors who traveled to Bali before the pandemic in 2019, most from Australia and China. The decline in tourist numbers has been devastating; the local tourist board says 1.1 million visitors visited the island in 2020, while only 51 came in 2021.
Walking through Seminyak, Bali’s main commercial hub, on my last afternoon, I meet one of thousands of small business owners who hope things will get back to normal as soon as possible.
Dewa Astika started his Azumi tattoo studio in 2017. During the pandemic, he laid off 10 employees and remortgaged his house. “I lost almost everything,” he says. “It’s two years of rent that have been wasted.”
As foreign airlines such as Qantas and its low-cost subsidiary Jetstar restart services to Bali, Dewa is optimistic that the much-missed buzz will return to Seminyak.
“Hopefully the tourists can bring life back…you take it for granted, you know because before it’s so crowded, you can’t move. But since that’s not the case anymore, I think I would much rather take it,” he says.
The reporter traveled to Bali as a guest of Jetstar.