Indonesia’s plan to bring Australians back to Bali

An opportunity for face-to-face talks on Bali between Sandiaga and Australia’s Trade and Tourism Minister Dan Tehan was missed late last month because the Indonesian minister was unaware that Tehan was in Jakarta.

Sandiaga said Tehan’s host for the trade-focused visit, Commerce Minister Muhammad Lutfi, was unaware that Tehan also had the tourism portfolio and at the time the message got through he was was not available. His deputy therefore met the Australian instead. .

Bali’s travel-dependent economy has been crushed by the pandemic.Credit:Getty Images

Asked at a virtual press conference in Jakarta about when Australians could travel to Bali again, Tehan vowed to “stay in very close contact” with Indonesia on the plans.

“Obviously, we need to achieve that 80% national immunization rate… then we need to partner with countries around the world exactly how this opening will play out,” Tehan said.

Indonesia, which has recorded more than 142,000 deaths from the virus, has seen new cases drop from more than 56,000 a day in July to less than 2,000 a day after strict protocols were introduced.

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In Bali, where 78% of the population was fully vaccinated on Friday after President Joko Widodo put the island in the lead, new infections are now in double digits every day.

But while public health experts have told officials that a third wave later this year is almost inevitable, authorities are taking “small steps” with Bali. Foreign tourists will, from this week, have to undergo eight days of quarantine at the hotel on their arrival, the government inclining to allow only fully vaccinated travelers to enter.

The country will aim to convince Australians that Bali is once again a safe destination “based on science,” Sandiaga said.

“Once the vaccinations reach their target by hopefully the end of the year, we will start the booster program and Bali will be the priority area,” he said.

“When the data confirms that the number of new cases, the number of active cases, bed occupancy rates, testing, tracing… are at a respectable level, that’s good publicity for inbound Australian tourists. “

He said in terms of virus related requirements and certifications, “Bali would really be in line with what Australians are up to. [for] post-pandemic ”.

Sandiaga Uno, left, with Indonesian President Joko Widodo.

Sandiaga Uno, left, with Indonesian President Joko Widodo.Credit:Getty Images

There were 1.23 million Australian visitors to Bali in 2019, more than any other nationality.

But as the absence of foreign tourists has crushed the island’s economy, it seeks to shift to a less is more approach.

Backpackers and party animals won’t be excluded, but the government has a different kind of tourist in mind for Bali, believing the island to be suitable for “more personalized, personalized, localized and smaller” post-pandemic travel.

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“Bali continues to stay high on the priority lists for people to visit, but we have to be very careful. We must make sure that Bali can continue to attract this demand and we must not [have] a strategy that will really risk the attraction of Bali, ”said Sandiaga.

Ecotourism and welcoming digital nomads are particular priorities.

“I think the new trend in tourism will focus more on nature and culture. It will be more focused on sustainability and quality tourism, ”he said.

“People will have to spend more time [abroad]. They could also start a “work placement”. They could actually be in Bali and work for a Sydney-based investment firm. “

Bali is also set to host the G20 summit next year when Indonesia assumes its presidency in 2022.

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