September 29th Update: After plans emerged to turn Bali into a sandbox for vaccinated visitors, more details are emerging, many of which are encouraging. Four countries would initially be allowed to visit. Read up to hear the latest.
Previously announced plans by Indonesian President Joko Widodo to reopen Bali for tourism in July came and went. So too did August, and September, but a limited travel reopening in October may finally be “real”.
Bali, the land of Gods as its known, is top drawer for any bucket list. It’s remote, exotic, full of culture, nature, and the food people travel thousands of miles for. Unfortunately it’s also been closed to most international visitors for quite a while due to low rates of covid-19 vaccination and alarming case rates.
Those have finally dropped from highs in the 40,000 cases per day to circa 3,000, with an additional 10% of the population being vaccinated every 30-40 days now.
Green shoots are now appearing, as vaccinations begin to hit critical numbers, and that means Indonesia and its islands, such as Bali and Bintan, are looking to finally reopen. Initial reopening plans seem more cautious than previously discussed, and may leave out much of the west.
Bali’s Latest Travel Reopening Plans
Indonesia is actively looking to reopen borders for foreign visitors and is focusing all efforts on October, particularly for key tourism destinations, like Bali, which could act as a travel “sandbox”, without bringing great risk to major cities like Jakarta.
Previous tourism related announcements indicated all vaccinated visitors would be welcome to return to Bali, but recent statements from Indonesian Investment Minister, Luhut Pandjaitan, suggest regional partners will likely come first, before Europeans, Americans, Brits and other major visitor groups.
If the minister’s statements are accurate, Indonesia would initially look at reopening Bali in October 2021 to visitors from: Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, and South Korea. It’s possible this could represent a brief trial period, ahead of a wider reopening for the December-January period, which is essential to Balinese tourism.
Recent increases in vaccination success are creating new enthusiasm to open up borders, and for the first time since the pandemic began, this includes support from the Indonesian President, Joko Widodo. Widodo sees the reopening of tourism as a key economic driver in Indonesia’s recovery.
Indonesian officials have taken the last few months to invite tourism and transport ministers from a variety of key tourism partners to sample the cleanliness measures and protocols in place on the islands, to help encourage countries to label Indonesia as ‘safe’ for a visit.
If you’re eager to visit Indonesia from October, Bali, Batam and Bintan appear to be the key focus areas of the government.
Coordinating Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan says the islands are nearly ready to welcome back visitors, and final details on protocols and visitor requirements are expected soon. No quarantine is expected for visitors to Bali, but full vaccination status will almost certainly be essential.
Here’s a list of countries opening doors to anyone with proof of vaccination.
Expats and digital nomads who remained in Bali during covid-19 attracted scorn the world over for flaunting local covid-19 restrictions. Fines imposed are significant to the local population, but at around $7 in western currency, many visitors were choosing to pay, rather than do their part to wear masks and obey other measures.
As part of current planning to welcome back international visitors, fines would jump to $70 on the spot, and deportation would be on the table for subsequent offenses by all visitors.
Bali: Reading Between The Lines
First it was September 11th, 2020 for a reopening date, then before the new year, and here we are late into the third quarter of that “great new year”, but finally with a “firm” idea of when Bali will reopen. Maybe.
Authorities now suggest Bali may really open in October, but Tourism Ministers previously said July, and previously said 2020. In the end, late autumn 2021 is seeming likely, ahead of peak season.
If you’re reading between the lines, Bali is very likely to open key tourism areas to select vaccinated travelers by the end October, and likely a wider sampling, hopefully including US, UK and European visitors by the end fo the year.
Planning trips for the final quarter of 2021 or into 2022, particularly if you’ve been vaccinated, seems like a fair bet right now, but not one without risks. When you do go, be sure to follow these essential tips for Bali, so you don’t miss a thing.