bali natural tourism
Picture: Kemenparekraf.

DENPASAR, Bali (BPN) – The reopening of Bali’s tourism for international travelers is expected in June or July 2021 if the curve of the COVID-19 case is flattened, as stated by President Jokowi on his last visit to Bali last month. The president’s statement received positive responses from tourism actors on the island

The Chairman of the Indonesian Food and Beverage Executive Association (IFBEC) Bali, I Ketut Darmayasa, said that he supports the president’s plan but with attention to several things related to the health protocols.

“The sooner the better, but we should also consider new cases of Covid-19.  With the awareness of owners, practitioners, management, employees, and guests to improve the health protocols, then (the awareness) will be able to be transmitted to the public. If all areas in Bali declared green zones, it means that the international borders of Bali’s tourism would be reopened sooner,” Darmayasa told BPN at Grand Istana Rama Hotel, Kuta, on Tuesday.

Darmayasa revealed since the government imposed the public activity restriction (PPKM) policy in Bali, it has affected hotels’ occupancy, where during the pandemic (the occupancy) is already very low, thus opening the border for foreign tourists to Bali will greatly ease the burden of hotels.

The Chairman of IFBEC Bali, I Ketut Darmayasa.
The Chairman of IFBEC Bali, I Ketut Darmayasa.

“The occupancy was still 30-40 percent before the PPKM. But after that, it’s only 10-20 percent. Meanwhile, hotels still have to pay hundreds of millions of rupiah for electricity and employees’ salary, even though there is no revenue. Hopefully, the strategies of the government to restore Bali’s tourism, and the role of academics, tourism industries, and the media, can speed up the reopening,” he said.

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Related to policies that must be executed if the government opened Bali’s tourism, Ketut Darmayasa expected more strict rules for the implementation of health protocols.

“Some restaurants, bars, and hotels have already implemented the no mask no service instruction. If this can be applied comprehensively, it will significantly contribute to the enforcement of health protocols,” he said.

Darmayasa who also serves as F&B Director at the Grand Istana Rama Hotel explained that the recovery of Bali’s tourism depends on the role of the government in the G2G system.

“Firstly, the recovery depends on the vaccination, the increasing number of people being vaccinated means the decrease in Covid-19 new cases. Then what about other countries (tourism market)? For this, we need the G2G, government to government. The government should find out which countries that already allow their citizens to travel. The government should identify this fast and immediately make a cooperation contract,” he explained.

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The face of post-pandemic tourism, Darmayasa continued, is tourists would be more selective in choosing destinations and would prefer to visit nature and eco-tourism.

“In the first semester after tourism has been reopened, travelers will consider more on security, comfort, and cleanliness. They will visit natural or eco-tourism because they are already bored staying at home. Bali can take and develop this opportunity, besides the government has been developing tourism villages’ tour,” he said.

On a different occasion, Nyoman Prabawa as General Manager of Seres Springs Resort and Spa Singakerta, Ubud, also hopes the international borders to be reopened in the near future.

Nyoman Prabawa revealed, financially the situation will be very difficult for hospitality in Bali if the government will reopen the international borders in 2022.

Nyoman Prabawa, General Manager of Seres Springs Resort and Spa Singakerta, Ubud.

“Bali Hotel Association (BHA) once held a poll of how long its members can survive with the current savings. The result, on average it’s only enough for six months. So if Bali’s tourism will be opened next year, certainly we will not be able to survive,” he said.

Nyoman Prabawa explained, domestic tourists have not been able to “normalize” Bali economically. “Statistically, we never know that the Indonesian people entering Bali are for a vacation, to work, trade, or study. If all the governments’ events will be directed to Bali it might be enough, but it is certainly not fair for other regions in the country,” Prabawa said.

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Prabawa expected the central government to treat Bali differently compared to the other provinces because of the contraction of Bali’s economy that minus to almost 10 percent, while other provinces only minus 4-6 percent.

“That’s why we ask the government to pay attention to Bali in a more special way. For example, there should be soft loans, then the second batch of tourism grant and Bali should be prioritized for vaccination to reach 70 percent of herd immunity, then open the airport this year with the concept of Free Covid Corridor,” Prabawa revealed.

The health protocols, he continued, will become a new lifestyle and its implementation will be the key to the revival of Bali’s tourism.

“Health and cleanliness will be number one. And if we want Bali at the top of the world’s tourism, then all stakeholders should be discipline up to the level of Banjar (hamlet) and mobilize all components including Pecalang (Balinese traditional guards) to be involved in enforcing the health protocols,” he concluded.

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