For two years, Bali has effectively been out of reach for Australian travellers. Now, finally, the Indonesian island, which welcomed as many as 1.23 million Australians a year before the pandemic, is back open for business.
There were only 61 passengers including 31 Australians on board a Garuda flight from Sydney to Denpasar’s Ngurah Rai International Airport on 4th March 2022, the first direct link there from an Australian city since the virus forced Indonesia’s borders closed in 2020.
But from 7th March, Bali will drop hotel quarantine requirements altogether as part of an “island bubble” scheme, an undertaking Indonesian officials hope will accelerate its sluggish reopening to international tourism. Same as that, Lyle Ryder, a British citizen who lives in Sydney, said he had missed surfing in Bali since his last visit in 2019.
Poppy is one of the travellers from Australia who said that He had been waiting for the first flight from Australia to Bali. For a long time, he wanted to come back before everyone came back just to enjoy Bali a little bit.
The couple, who run franchises of the F45 gym chain in Bali’s Seminyak and Canggu areas, had been based in Australia over the past two years as the Indonesian province’s economy was crushed by the impacts of COVID-19 and its health system endured significant pressure.
Rebooting Bali’s tourism sector has been a priority for the Indonesian government of President Joko Widodo, known as Jokowi, from the moment it decided last year to fast-track vaccination on the island before other regions of the archipelago.
The emergence of the Omicron variant was a setback to those ambitions, though, with the government until now delaying plans to lift quarantine protocols, which in turn left airlines hesitant to resume services.
From 7th March, however, quarantine on Bali will be waived and visas on arrival will once again be available to foreign tourists.
The latest developments in Bali come as other nations in south-east Asia race to reopen and grab a share of the regional tourism market even as Omicron lingers.
The Philippines has joined Cambodia in dumping quarantine for overseas arrivals, Thailand has reduced its isolation requirement to a single night, Singapore has extended a vaccinated travel lane network to 30 countries and Vietnam is easing border restrictions this month.