Jakarta, Aug 24 (efe-epa).- Authorities on the Indonesian island of Bali, a major tourist destination, have backtracked on plans to reopen the island to foreign visitors amid rising coronavirus infections in the country and across the globe.
In July, local officials had unveiled plans to once again welcome foreign tourists from September.
But in a statement issued over the weekend, the government in Bali said that the situation in the archipelago continued to be critical and would mean that no foreign visitors, many of whom are subject to travel bans in their home countries, would be allowed into Indonesia for the remainder of the year.
“The situation in Indonesia is not conducive to allow international tourists to visit Indonesia, including Bali,” the statement from the island’s governor, Wayan Koster, said.
“The central government supports (Bali’s) plans to recover tourism by opening the doors for international tourists. However, this requires care, prudence, not to be rushed, and requires careful preparation,” the statement added.
To date, no country in Southeast Asia has announced when they will reopen their borders to tourists without restrictions, except for Cambodia, which has allowed foreign visitors since May, although only with strict measures in place.
Tourists traveling to Cambodia must pay a deposit of $3,000 upon arrival, which is returned if a compulsory test for Covid-19 comes back negative.
Last year, the island of Bali welcomed around 6.3 million tourists, according to local government figures, making it Indonesia’s most popular tourist destination.
With over 155,000 confirmed cases and more than 6,750 deaths, Indonesia is one of the worst-affected countries in Southeast Asia by the pandemic, although the coronavirus has been relatively kind to Bali. Only 52 people have died on the island out of a total of 4,576 cases, despite restrictions there being quite lax.
Indonesia closed its borders to foreign visitors in March, although some tourists who were already in Bali chose to stay and see out the pandemic on the island.
Local authorities estimate that, since then, around a thousand tourists have stayed on the island, the majority of whom are from China, although there are also significant numbers of people from the United Kingdom, Canada, the Netherlands, France and Argentina. EFE-EPA