Bali to remain closed until 2021

Erwin Renaldi
Swellnet Dispatch

Indonesia's popular tourist destination Bali has postponed its plans to reopen to international visitors by September and will instead remain closed until at least the end of the year.

The coronavirus pandemic has hit Bali's tourism industry hard and driven up unemployment.

With COVID-19 largely spreading unchecked a mere 2.4 kilometres across the sea in neighbouring Java, Bali's Governor decided that despite the island's heavy reliance on tourism, it was too early to reopen.

The decision comes as the number of coronavirus cases in Indonesia continues to rise, officially standing at 157,800 cases and 6,800 deaths on Wednesday, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University. However the true figure is likely to be much higher.

"We cannot open the gate to international travellers until the end of 2020 as the situation in Indonesia, including Bali, is not yet safe to welcome them," Bali's Governor Wayan Koster said in a statement last Saturday.

Domestic travellers have been allowed to visit the island since the end of last month, however it has been closed to international visitors since April.

Janet DeNeefe says she is trying to keep her business open despite the lack of tourists.

'I feel sad for the local people'

Janet DeNeefe, an Australian expat from Melbourne who owns a restaurant and hotel in Ubud, Bali said the decision to postpone the reopening was "not unexpected".

"I already imagined that September was too optimistic, given the increase in COVID-19 [cases]," she told the ABC.

"I feel sad for the local people. I think everybody was optimistic that they would get some sort of business back, but obviously we just have to wait and see what happens."

The occupancy rate at Bali's hotels plunged to 2.07 per cent in May, according to the island's statistic bureau.

Ms DeNeefe said most of the hotels in Bali were currently closed because there was no point opening when so few holidaymakers were around to stay in them.

"We have one room that's being rented at this moment [by] an Indonesian girl … staying for three months," she said.

"It doesn't really cover our operational costs, but it certainly helps."

But Ms DeNeefe said she was still keeping her business open and employing local people part time.

She added many locals were trying their best to survive and were supporting each other by selling food at affordable prices.

"We are trying to grow different aspects of business that are more about simple food at a lower price," she said.

"Every little bit helps … a lot of folks just put a table at the front [of their homes and businesses] and sell little packets of rice for 20 cents."

Surviving with zero income

Putu Eka Juliawan owns a car rental company based in Denpasar and most of his clients are international tourists.

"Before the pandemic, we rented out 25 to 30 cars per day, but since April our income has been zero," Mr Juliawan said.

He has been surviving on his savings for his daily needs and the Government has provided some relief through longer-term car financing.

But he said having no income meant he could not employ drivers at the moment and many of them had gone back to their villages to farm.

He said he was disappointed with the postponement of Bali's reopening — a feeling widely shared by many working in the tourism sector.

"But what can you do?" he said.

"We just wait and follow the Government's policy.

"I personally really hope that a vaccine will be available as soon as possible."

Putu Eka Juliawan (right) says many of his employees have had to return to their villages.

'Authentic' farm culture returning to Bali

Since tourism is the main source of income for most locals, the travel restrictions have significantly impacted the island's economy.

According to a June report by Kopernik — a non-profit organisation based in Ubud — 81 per cent of Balinese households have been impacted economically, and 44 per cent have either permanently or temporarily lost their jobs due to the pandemic.

Gede Robi Supriyanto, a musician and environmental activist in Bali, said the figures showed the extent of Bali's reliance on the tourism sector.

"Tourism is the backbone of Bali and the economy has fallen because we rely too much on it," Mr Supriyanto said.

He said the problem had sparked a "cultural shift", with people who had lost their jobs in tourism moving back to their home villages.

"We see an increase of employment in the agricultural sector, more people doing farm work," Mr Supriyanto said.

"Bali is going back to its roots," he said. "If we want to see the authentic culture of Bali, that is agriculture, we are seeing it now."

Local people are turning to agriculture as widespread unemployment bites.

Mr Supriyanto said he saw many Balinese beginning to take care of water sources, paying more attention to nature, and repurposing their lands that had previously been used for tourism infrastructure.

The vocalist of Navicula — a band that combines environmental activism with rock music — said he believed Bali had been exploiting its environment for tourism prior to the pandemic and was now "resetting".

"People are rethinking to preserve their nature and culture, whether accidentally or forced to because of the pandemic," he said.

Mr Supriyanto said although it was sad so many people were out of work, he and many others were trying to see the situation with a different perspective.

"In a disaster like this we need to adapt quickly so every step that we are taking will turn into solutions for the problem," he said.

Comments

goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot commented Thursday, 27 Aug 2020 at 9:21am

So Bali can decide when they open, the decision doesn’t have to be made by the Indonesian government?

amb's picture
amb's picture
amb commented Thursday, 27 Aug 2020 at 9:28am

nup needs the go ahead from the big boys upstairs.

chris carter's picture
chris carter's picture
chris carter commented Thursday, 27 Aug 2020 at 9:27am

Maybe there will be a shift in farmers not selling off all their land for villas like all of Canggu has been over the past 15 years
And hopefully slow some of the carnage thru so called progress

Saltwaterlover's picture
Saltwaterlover's picture
Saltwaterlover commented Thursday, 27 Aug 2020 at 10:26am

Thats got to be one positive i suppose.

dandandan's picture
dandandan's picture
dandandan commented Friday, 28 Aug 2020 at 1:27pm

Absolutely. Of my friends in Bali, it is the ones without land to return to that are struggling the most. Others - even those who had great high paying jobs and had never planted a seed - have found a sense of rhythm and purpose in agriculture. Those without land to farm are stuck in a listless boredom that shows no sign of leaving.

(Hopefully it also means that foreigners stop trying so hard to buy said land too. It's wild how many people who have villas in rice fields that are passionately against other foreigners doing what they have already done)

lilas's picture
lilas's picture
lilas commented Saturday, 29 Aug 2020 at 6:12am

Never a good idea to put all your eggs in one basket. [Tourism]
Hopefully the return to agriculture is going to soften any future tourism downfalls, and reconnect them with mother earth.

Pato_'s picture
Pato_'s picture
Pato_ commented Monday, 31 Aug 2020 at 3:26pm

A return to agriculture for the vast population is not going to provide improved living standards. Civilization moved to agriculture 10,000 years ago, while it might be nice to romance about, the reality on the ground would be a lot different.

eva.lenoir's picture
eva.lenoir's picture
eva.lenoir commented Monday, 31 Aug 2020 at 5:51pm

When viewing Surfers Of Bali on Youtube there seems to be a lot of white people still surfing. Are they all permanent residents? Or Visa overstayers? Do expats have to leave the country to renew their Visas? All a bit confusing. Maybe some one can explain how a foreigner gets to live in Bali under the new conditions. Not that I know how it's ever worked.

andy-mac's picture
andy-mac's picture
andy-mac commented Tuesday, 1 Sep 2020 at 8:38am

Easy to get Business/ Social visa if you go through an agent.
Heaps around, some better than others.

Botak

indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming commented Tuesday, 1 Sep 2020 at 6:48pm

There is something like 30K foreigners that live in Bali and then there is still something like 11K foreigners in Indo on tourist visas.(most in Bali)

Indo has been pretty generous they have allowed tourist to stay the whole time even those just on 28 day free visa's but in the last month they have started cracking down on things, people are now being made to upgrade or extend visas and pressure is being put on some to go home.

# BTW im just going off my memory with this figures it might actually be higher.

Please Stunet give me an ignore button for Talking Turkey, Shatners Basoon, Dale Cooper, Factotum, Pupkin, and any new fake profile he decides to create.

Jono's picture
Jono's picture
Jono commented Friday, 4 Sep 2020 at 9:15am

Bit of swell coming...

goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot commented Friday, 4 Sep 2020 at 9:18am

Jono, man, stop it

Jono's picture
Jono's picture
Jono commented Friday, 4 Sep 2020 at 9:37am

Haaa sorry gf. What a forecast though, offshore all day every day, woops I've gone and done it again.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Friday, 4 Sep 2020 at 9:38am

Cruel..

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo commented Friday, 4 Sep 2020 at 1:56pm

Chongy posted a couple waves from a recent Deserts trip -
nickchong1 insta

simba's picture
simba's picture
simba commented Friday, 4 Sep 2020 at 1:58pm

udo....copy and paste.....repeat after me...copy and paste......easy eh

simba

Jono's picture
Jono's picture
Jono commented Friday, 4 Sep 2020 at 2:22pm

I used to want that but it's part of his mystique now. Makes you work for the information.

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo commented Friday, 4 Sep 2020 at 2:32pm

just learning it now...i promise.
Can we get some info from Warshaw on Bali sea water quality ...it must be 80% cleaner than it was 9 mths ago ?
Satellite pics Brokensha ?

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Friday, 4 Sep 2020 at 2:51pm

Scott Morrison today: “In the absence of a vaccine, we may have to live this way for years, and we need it to be a sustainable and workable for as long as possible.”

This would suggest 2021 is unlikely to see a return to Indo travel.

DudeSweetDudeSweet's picture
DudeSweetDudeSweet's picture
DudeSweetDudeSweet commented Friday, 4 Sep 2020 at 3:02pm

Get bent Scomo.

I’ve got a life to lead.

shoredump's picture
shoredump's picture
shoredump commented Saturday, 5 Sep 2020 at 7:11am

But there isn’t an absence of a vaccine, there’s several that have proven to work to a satisfactory degree on a small sample.

I’d say that comment from Scomo was more about keeping the ball rolling for states to open boarders, as it would be tempting for state leaders to keep boarders shut until these vaccines come online next year

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Friday, 4 Sep 2020 at 4:02pm

From the Jakarta Post:

"Indonesia reports higher COVID-19 death rate among children than United States. Children accounted for 1.9 percent of all COVID-19 deaths in which victims’ age were provided, which exceeded 7,000 on Thursday, official data show."

mickseq's picture
mickseq's picture
mickseq commented Friday, 4 Sep 2020 at 7:59pm

Now is the time to reflect honestly in your life going forth,

Every 2-5 years there is panic, - financial panic, this is a biological imbalance but still, panic.

No panic ever lasted and so to will this.

what do I want to do with my life? how can I make sacrifices now that will bring benefit later on? how can I help others? is what I am thinking really true? how accurate is my thinking?

offshoreozzie's picture
offshoreozzie's picture
offshoreozzie commented Friday, 4 Sep 2020 at 10:02pm

Seems like pros and people like the WSL's Strider Wasifuckstick have no trouble getting in....

geek's picture
geek's picture
geek commented Saturday, 5 Sep 2020 at 8:33am

Yeh wtf is with that?!

mickseq's picture
mickseq's picture
mickseq commented Saturday, 5 Sep 2020 at 5:49pm

closed!

mickseq's picture
mickseq's picture
mickseq commented Friday, 4 Sep 2020 at 11:28pm

mmmmmm

mickseq's picture
mickseq's picture
mickseq commented Friday, 4 Sep 2020 at 11:29pm

tooo much

mickseq's picture
mickseq's picture
mickseq commented Saturday, 5 Sep 2020 at 12:06am

smoking brother

mickseq's picture
mickseq's picture
mickseq commented Saturday, 5 Sep 2020 at 5:52pm

.

mickseq's picture
mickseq's picture
mickseq commented Saturday, 5 Sep 2020 at 5:52pm

,

Robo's picture
Robo's picture
Robo commented Friday, 11 Sep 2020 at 8:26pm
gunther's picture
gunther's picture
gunther commented Friday, 11 Sep 2020 at 8:54pm

Must be nice to live in a different reality to everyone else eh!

Roystein's picture
Roystein's picture
Roystein commented Friday, 11 Sep 2020 at 8:58pm

Amazing how many waves he didn’t make.
Looked like the wrong board and snapping too hard on the setup

ringmaster's picture
ringmaster's picture
ringmaster commented Friday, 11 Sep 2020 at 9:31pm

He was just toying with it.