Although Bali’s governor Wayan Koster had earlier announced that the island would reopen for international arrivals from September 11, the prospect of that happening is now in question after the central government said that Indonesia is unlikely to receive international tourists until the end of the year.
“In regards to foreign tourists, I think we will not accept them until the end of the year. Let us consolidate first,” Indonesia's coordinating minister for maritime affairs and investment, Luhut Pandjaitan, said during a virtual event on August 13.
The Balinese government is yet to release an official statement on the status of the September reopening, but the island's vice governor, Cok Ace, has said that welcoming international arrivals requires a more comprehensive and detailed study, and should not be based on the island’s “quietness” alone.
“We must also look at the regions where tourists are coming from and at the respective policies of these regions,” he told reporters at an Indonesian Independence Day event on August 17.
Deputy chairperson of the Indonesian Hotel General Manager Association, I Made Ramia Adnyana, understands and appreciates the central government’s position. "I think this postponement may be so that a second wave does not occur, as has happened in several countries,” he told Tribun Bali.
Minister Luhut has previously said that the ongoing halt in global travel also creates opportunities for the domestic market to fill the foreign tourism revenue gap.
Many Bali hotels and resorts that have historically targeted the international market are now pivoting themselves towards the domestic sector by offering various promotions to entice Indonesian guests.
While Bali is Indonesian's most established destination for foreign tourists, the island actually received 10.7 million domestic arrivals in 2019, significantly more than the 6.3 million international arrivals recorded.
Riska Widiartini, marketing executive at The Garcia Resort Ubud, one of the dozen hotels that have so far received the New Era Protocol certification from the Bali Hotels Association, believes that “the opening of domestic flights in July is a breath of fresh air for the tourism industry, and also means that domestic tourists are now the mainstay for restoring the sector.
"I don't think we should underestimate the contribution of domestic tourists because they are not inferior to foreign tourists,” she added.