For the first time in two years, direct international flights to Bali have resumed, as Indonesia opens the resort island to visitors from all nations, albeit all visitors must still pass through a strict quarantine.
Bali officials said in October that they would allow visitors from 19 nations that met WHO standards, such as keeping their COVID-19 cases under control. However, until Thursday, when Garuda Indonesia launched its first direct international trip to Bali in two years, there were no direct international flights to Bali.
According to Taufan Yudhistira, the public relations manager at Bali’s international airport, Singapore Airlines will begin flying a regular direct route to and from Denpasar in Bali on February 16.
Passengers who have received two doses of COVID-19 vaccination must quarantine for five days in a hotel or on a liveaboard boat recognized by the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy, while travelers who have received one dose must quarantine for seven days.
In the most recent 24-hour period, Indonesia recorded 27,197 new coronavirus infections and 38 fatalities. Since the outbreak, the country has had around 4.4 million cases in total.
The country’s most recent outbreak, caused by the highly transmissible omicron variant, has been concentrated mostly in Jakarta, but infections have “increased significantly” in Java and Bali in recent days, according to Coordinating Maritime Affairs and Investment Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, who leads the COVID-19 response in Java and Bali.
According to Pandjaitan, the quarantine for foreign visitors is designed to prevent the virus from spreading further.
In 2019, Bali’s airport handled more than 200 foreign aircraft with at least one million passengers per day before the epidemic. After COVID-19 slammed the world’s fourth most populated country in 2020, the island was blocked to foreign planes.
Tourism is the major source of wealth in Bali, which has a population of almost 4 million Hindus in a predominantly Muslim archipelago nation. Bali’s tourist districts were deserted two decades ago as a result of fatal terror attacks targeting foreigners, but the island has worked hard to change its image.
The reopening of Bali to all passengers would help strengthen the island’s economy, which has been severely impacted by the epidemic, according to Pandjaitan.
As the government prepares to host G-20 events in Bali later this year, the reopening will also act as a “trial,” according to Tourism and Economy Minister Sandiaga Uno.
The G-20 summit of finance ministers and central bank governors was intended to take place in Bali in mid-February, but it was moved to Jakarta due to the increase in COVID-19 instances. Some participants will be able to participate in the events virtually.