Bali has started preparations to reopen for mass tourism with what it calls ‘The Green Zone’. The scheme entails specific areas of the island with minimal presence of COVID-19 and increased health and safety measures to be accessible to international tourists.
Bali Governor Wayan Koster announced the COVID-free zone initiative to safely allow international travelers to visit the island during the pandemic.
The news comes amidst declining COVID-19 cases in the region, empowering Bali to articulate the steps to restart international tourism.
“In collaboration with the Health Ministry, we have agreed to open the Green Zone, so both domestic and international travelers will be only allowed to visit these COVID-19 free areas,” said Koster during a virtual press conference on the Indonesian Health Ministry’s Youtube channel on Monday.
The Coordinating Minister of Maritime Affairs and Investment, Luhut Pandjaitan, revealed that the number of active COVID-19 cases in Bali has dropped in recent days, with contributing factors being the rollout of vaccines, strenuous implementation of protocols, and a high compliance level from residents.
To this effect, Pandjaitan appeared optimistic in reopening international borders while emphasizing consequences for those found violating protocols.
Relevantly, Indonesian Tourism Minister, Sandiaga Uno, agreed that Bali is ready to reinstate international borders.
“After observing the COVID-19 cases in the last several weeks in Bali, I think it’s time for us to start reopening our border one step at a time for international visitors with strict prevention protocols in place,” said Sandiaga Uno.
While Governor Koster is yet to announce the details of the Green Zone, Tourism Minister Sandiaga Uno has revealed the locations that may be sanctioned as safe zones, as follows;
– Nusa Dua
– Nusa Penida
Bali’s vaccine rollout began early this year, with the fourth and most recent shipment carrying 130,000 doses of Sinovac arriving in Bali last week.
Now in phase two, Bali is on track to distribute 600,000 doses by July. More than 13,000 medical workers have been immunized thus far, while also targeting police, military, government officials, journalists, market vendors, tourism workers, and the elderly. Accordingly, the government has launched an open online registration for tourism workers ready to receive the jab.
Anxiously anticipating the return of international tourism, more than 10,000 tourism industry workers registered within the first two days of the announcement.
The government aims to vaccinate 1.2 million workers as the island works around the clock to recover its tourism-backed economy.
Stage three, centered on all residents, is to begin by August, as the government expects to conclusively vaccinate 70% of its four million+ population. “We expect at least 2.9 million people in Bali to be vaccinated by the final stage of the program to create immunity among people on the island,” said the Head of Bali Health Agency, Dr. Ketut Suarjaya.
The popular tourist site of Nusa Dua was among the first in Bali to establish a pandemic-free zone concept in November. The southern Bali peninsula began implementing stringent protocols for staff and visitors to eliminate the risk of transmission at resorts.
The paradisiacal enclave introduced higher levels of safety measures, exceeding the standards outlined by the government and COVID-19 Handing Task Force.
In this regard, the VP of Destination Planning of Indonesia Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC), Doddy Dwinandam said that they are committed to rendering confidence among their visitors by reaching new heights of safety measures. In effect, travelers will be tested upon arrival at Bali Airport. Once cleared, a designated vehicle will transport them directly to the resort.
“In the Nusa Dua Green Zone, resorts will test visitors upon arrival. All staff will reside within the property to minimize transmission coming in from outside the resort,” explained Doddy.
As an economy heavily dependent on tourism, Bali is the prime focus in Indonesia concerning reopening borders, with its government, tourism industry, and residents working collectively towards this unified goal.