As it has been confirmed that China will reopen its borders from 8th January 2023, Bali tourism businesses are preparing to welcome a sharp increase in arrivals. The Bali Tourism Board have spoken to reporters about their predictions for the start of the year.
In light of other countries implementing mandatory PCR testing for travelers from China, as caseloads in the country appear to be increasing, businesses in Bali are now discussing how to welcome Chinese tourism back to the island without compromising the consistently low infection rates across the province.
Speaking to reporters, the Chairman of the Bali Tourism Board, Ida Bagus Partha Adnyana, said, “They [China] opened [the border], but I don’t know how many will come from China to Bali. What I know is there are [direct flights from] SQ Singapore Airlines from Beijing to Singapore, the other [options] I don’t know yet. There is no information on how many people there are”.
Currently, there is no direct flight from mainland China to Bali, the most efficient route currently available would be to fly from mainland China to Singapore and onwards to Denpasar. In light of the borders reopening in China, airlines will be keen to offer a direct route from China to Indonesia. Before the pandemic, hundreds of thousands of tourists from China would spend the Luna New Year holidays in Bali. Chinese New Year 2023 falls on 22nd January.
Adnyana continued, “We don’t suddenly want to open the faucet, so I think that Singapore is definitely strict on screening; I think Singapore is good compared to the others, strict for inspection, meaning people who are really boosted according to the rules can come to Indonesia”.
He explained that he is calling on the provincial government to promote booster vaccines for hospitality workers and the wider community. He said, “No other way [to prevent the spread]. So I asked for 7,000 booster vaccines for tourism workers in Badung, Denpasar, and Gianyar”. Hopefully, early this year, we can do it,” Governor Wayan Koster has accepted the request, and the vaccines will be delivered in the coming weeks.
Tourism officials in Bali have already spoken up about their intention to attract high-earning Chinese tourists when borders reopen. Speaking on the 1st December 2022, the Head of the Bali Provincial Tourism Office, Tjokorda Bagus Pemayun, said middle-income and high earners needed to be the targets of marketing campaigns for the island.
He explained, “This is what we are working on because the spending money is high. Sleeping or staying overnight is definitely in expensive places. [They] spend money, and the spending is extraordinary [they] take it everywhere.”
News that China is reopening its borders comes just as President Joko Widodo confirms the end to the remaining Covid-19 restrictions in Indonesia. The President said ‘there will be no more restrictions on gatherings and movements”.
This means that Indonesian citizens will no longer be required to show proof of a booster vaccine to travel domestically, but it remains the case that proof of vaccine is required for international travelers. The last update regarding international travel regulations was published in a circular letter by the Covid-19 Task Force on the 10th of November 2022. However, this remains under constant review.
Looking to the year ahead, the Bank of Indonesia is projecting strong economic growth in 2023. This will no doubt be bolstered by the return of Chinese tourism to the island. The Head of the Bali Representative Office of BI Trisno Nugroho told reporters, “We are optimistic that in 2022, as a whole, Bali’s economy will grow by around 4.60-5.40 percent. Thus, for Bali’s economic growth in 2023, we are projecting it to still be driven by the increase in performance of businesses related to tourism”.
He shared that in the third quarter of 2022, 52% of the economy in Bali was generated by tourism, either directly through businesses like hotels or indirectly through construction businesses and other service companies. Nugroho concluded, “Therefore, the development of the number of tourists who visit Bali will affect Bali’s tourism performance and economic growth”.
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