Bali reopens international flights but still no tourists in sight

Bali officially reopened its airport to some international flights on Thursday, including those from China, Japan or France, to allow tourism to resume, devastated after more than a year and a half of the closure of the Indonesian island to foreign tourists due to the pandemic.

But the local authorities specified that at the moment no international flight was expected and the international terminal was deserted.

“We are ready and waiting for international flights,” said Taufan Yudhistira, a spokesman for the Balinese airport.

“But so far nothing is planned.”

Foreign visitors will need to be fully vaccinated, undergo a 5-day hotel quarantine, and have proper visas to travel to Bali.

Indonesian authorities have just announced the reopening of tourist visas, which had been suspended since the start of the pandemic, however visas on arrival have yet to be restored.

Bali Ngurah Rai International Airport is accessible to travelers from 19 countries, including South Korea, China, Japan, France, United Arab Emirates, Dubai, and New Zealand.

However, this reopening does not concern Australia, which provided the largest contingent of tourists to the Indonesian island before the pandemic.

Indonesia has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, registering a peak of more than 56,000 new cases daily in mid-July under the influence of the highly contagious Delta variant.

The government had imposed strict restrictions on the worst-hit regions by shutting down non-essential businesses and drastically restricting travel.

But the epidemic is now in sharp decline in the Southeast Asian archipelago, after the government has stepped up its vaccination campaign.

Bali airport when it reopens to international flights after the Covid epidemic, October 14, 2021, in Indonesia (AFP – SONNY TUMBELAKA)

The task remains daunting in the archipelago of more than 270 million people, where some 57 million Indonesians have received two doses of the vaccine. But in Bali, one of the priority areas, more than 80% of the population over 12 years old has been vaccinated.

The government has gradually begun to ease the restrictions in place in many parts of the archipelago.

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