Indonesian officials are working on a travel corridor program that could see foreign tourists visiting Bali by the middle of this year, Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Sandiaga Uno has announced.
During a visit to the province a few days ago, President Joko Widodo said that Bali might restart tourism some time in June or July, as long as the COVID-19 pandemic is under control.
Sandiaga and other officials, including Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi and Bali Governor Wayan Koster, followed that up with a meeting that aims to set up a “strict reopening” to foreign tourists in a few months.
This latest timeline is a lot sooner than what Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said last week, who set Bali’s reopening to April 2022.
Officials have been spouting different terms in the last few weeks, from “green zones,” to “COVID-19 safe travel” and “Free COVID Corridor,” all of which appear to be part of the same grand strategy to revive Bali’s tourism-dependent economy.
The proposed “travel corridor arrangement,” will be offered to countries that are able to contain the spread of the coronavirus, have high vaccination rates, and could offer reciprocal benefits, Sandiaga said in a statement. Countries that are currently being considered include the Netherlands, China, United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Singapore.
“But the finalization will depend on each [partner] country’s travel corridor arrangement,” he said.
Several things must be achieved before the program starts, the minister said, such as low COVID-19 numbers, increased compliance to health protocols, stronger testing, tracing and treatment, and the vaccination of at least 2 million people in Bali by July.
Sandiaga also said that the steps taken to finalize their preparations for the program will be evaluated every two weeks and followed-up with trial-runs in the designated green zones: Ubud, Nusa Dua, and Sanur.
Earlier this month, public health experts stressed that Bali must improve its handling of the public health crisis, with one of them noting that the situation is “not under control.”
Dicky Budiman, an epidemiologist from Griffith University Australia, detailed a number of steps that officials must take before considering reopening, including creating a system prepared to handle health crises that may arise among travelers.