Tuesday, August 04, 2020

Bali set to welcome back tourists even as virus cases surge

Jul 07. 2020
A beach temporarily closed due to the coronavirus in Kuta, Bali, Indonesia, on June 22, 2020. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Putu Sayoga.
A beach temporarily closed due to the coronavirus in Kuta, Bali, Indonesia, on June 22, 2020. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Putu Sayoga.
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By Syndication Washington Post, Bloomberg · Harry Suhartono, Arys Aditya · WORLD, ASIA-PACIFIC

Bali, Indonesia's most-popular holiday destination, will welcome back visitors from the end of this month even after the resort island reported a four-fold increase in virus cases in June as pressure mounts on authorities to rescue the battered tourism industry.

While local tourists can visit the beaches, temples and the popular surfing spots across the island from July 31, foreign visitors will be allowed from Sept. 11, the Bali government said in a statement. The reopening of the tourism industry is part of a plan to restart the economy in a phased manner, it said.

Bali, popular with backpackers from Australia to China, had some success in containing the virus outbreak in its early phase, but saw infections soar in June with the return of more migrant workers and a ramp-up in testing. The island's tourism-dependent economy was ravaged by the nearly four-month shutdown of hundreds of resorts and hotels.

"We must continue to make the best efforts to handle Covid-19, while at the same time we must begin to carry out activities for the sake of community life," Bali's governor, Wayan Koster, said in the statement.

The governor appealed to citizens to wear mask in public, avoid large gatherings and practice social distancing to stem the spread of the virus. The number of people infected by the virus in Bali jumped to 1,849 on Sunday, from just 465 at the start of June, with 20 people succumbing to the disease, official data show.

With foreign and domestic tourists absent from the island, hotel occupancy in Bali slumped to 2.1% in May from 52% a year ago, according to official data.

Indonesia still remains under the grip of the pandemic with new cases mounting by more than a 1,000 every day in the past two weeks. The country has the most number of infections and fatalities in Southeast Asia, forcing authorities to impose mobility restrictions and mandatory virus testing before flights, discouraging fliers.

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