Bali Governor Wayan Koster has shared his optimism for Bali’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. Cumulative data shows that the number of new cases is consistently in decline; Bali is currently averaging 15-30 known new cases daily. Bali’s population is over 4.2 million people, to have cases loads below 30 new cases daily is an incredibly good sign.
In the last week, there have been murmurings of worry across Bali after Bali’s Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin held a press conference to announce that new variants of Covid-19 had been detected on the island.
Four cases of Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 were detected in May but authorities in Bali have assured the public that Covid-19 is clinically under control and that the new variants have both milder symptoms and lower mortality rates. There have been no Covid-related deaths reported in Bali for weeks.
Governor Koster released a written press statement on the 16th of June celebrating the achievements of the island in its handling of the pandemic stating that could have only been possible with cooperation and consistency.
It is likely his statement has been prompted by the statements made by health officials in a bid to reassure the public that the pandemic is under control and heading in the right direction. Governor Koster made special reference to the Bali Police Chief and his teams, the regency mayors throughout the islands, and communities who worked together to manage the pandemic at a local and familial level.
In his statement, Governor Koster wrote ‘With the improvement in COVID-19 and the high achievement of booster vaccines, it has created a comfortable, safe, and conducive atmosphere for tourist visits to Bali, so that the number of domestic and foreign tourists visiting Bali is increasing”.
Koster is determined to see visitor numbers return to pre-pandemic levels and has recently set out a 15-point plan to ensure that the tourism sector bounces back quickly while prioritizing the promotion of Balinese heritage and culture. Bali has an opportunity that other tourism hotspots in South East Asia do not. In 2022 Bali is hosting a series of major international conferences. This is helping to put Bali front and center on the world stage.
So far this year Bali has hosted the UN’s 7th Global Platform For Disaster Risk Reduction; as well as the 144th World Parliament Meeting which was attended by delegated from 178 countries. This is in addition to the celebrated return of the Bali Arts Festival that regularly attracts over 1 million visitors to the island.
All these conferences are helping to promote Bali as a destination for business and politics, all the while building on the success the island has had over the last few decades as a must-visit tourist destination.
Other tourism destinations across South East Asia like the Thai islands of Phuket or Malaysia’s Langkawi have not had the benefit of being able to guarantee huge numbers of visitors for business and politics in addition to tourism.
Despite the huge influx of people to Bali for both tourism, business, and official purposes, and the recent scrapping of the pre-arrival PCR test for vaccinated travelers, Cobid-19 cases have remained low and in decline.
The success of these conferences and the fact that the influx of arrivals had had no impact on cases is a hugely positive sign for authorities in Bali in the run-up to hosting the G20 Summit in November.
The G20 Summit will be attended by 39 Heads of State as well as business leaders and over 10,000 participants. The conference will run from 15-16th November, with extra events before and after the summit itself.
The world’s media will arrive in Bali to document the event and a successful conference. Bali is taking the opportunity to host the G20 as a chance to renovate and improve resources and infrastructure across the island.
Governor Koster’s optimism is grounded and proving to be true. He added that he is thankful for the ‘blessings of nature, the ancestors, the sacred teachers and the hardwired and collective awareness of the Balinese people’.
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