Indonesia’s tropical holiday island of Bali could reopen to tourists in less than five months as the destination successfully controls its coronavirus outbreak.
Tourism Ministry secretary Ni Wayan Giri Adnyani said on Friday that Bali could open its doors to tourists as early as October.
As of Friday, Bali had reported 343 coronavirus cases and four deaths, a much lower fatality rate compared with 16,496 cases and 1,076 deaths in the whole archipelago.
If the infection curve continues to improve, the tourism ministry will ramp up promotion for parts of the country, including Bali, between June and October.
Bali, the city of Yogyakarta and Riau islands province are high on the list for the tourism ministry to at least partially reopen by October.
Bali’s economy depends largely on visitors. Its gross domestic product (GDP) contracted 1.14 per cent on-year in January-March, compared with a 2.97 per cent GDP expansion nationally.
Foreign tourist arrivals into Indonesia plunged more than 60 per cent in March, compared to the year-earlier month, with Chinese arrivals sliding more than 97 per cent.
Last year, 1.23 million Australians visited Bali – a rise of 5.24 per cent on 2018 figures.
Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said travel restrictions could be lifted after three to four months on Friday, meaning that people may be able to travel come August or September.
‘I think we are thinking of a planning framework of three to four months in terms of our next steps,’ he said.
‘We’re looking at, potentially, whether we can relax some distancing with very strong compensation by even stronger public health measures.
‘But I wouldn’t be envisaging any material changes to border measures in that three to four-month period.’
Australian citizens and permanent residents currently cannot travel overseas for holiday purposes due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Exemptions are granted if travel is for provision of aid, essential business, medical treatment that is unavailable in Australia, compassionate or humanitarian grounds and national interest.