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Positive Talks At Kremlin Give Bali Governor Hope For Re-Opening Of Moscow-Bali Flight

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Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo has met with both Russia’s President Putin and Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy in the last week. His mission was clear, to offer to be a bridge between the warring nations and be a key player in establishing peace talks ahead of the G20 Summit that will be held in Bali in November this year. 

The discussions were not only about peace and food security, however, but Jokowi and Putin are also said to have discussed international air space, including tourism, and are reported to have touched upon reopening direct flights from Moscow to Bali. Despite the grave and troubled times, the resumption of the Moscow-Bali direct flight may bring benefits for citizens of both nations. 

As of 28th April, 2022 Russian citizens were re-added to Indonesia’s visa-on-arrival program. The program initially opened with 60 eligible countries and was extended to include Russia, Ukraine, and fifteen other countries. Currently, there are no direct flights from Russia to anywhere in Indonesia, this was largely due to the pandemic. When the war broke out flight schedules were also impacted.

The return of the Moscow-Bali direct flight would be good news for Bali. Prior to lockdown, Russian tourists ranked as the fourth most frequent international travelers to Bali, with Australia consistently topping the charts. During Bali’s initial reopening period from January 1st to May 31st, 2022, Russian tourists still made it into the top ten of international visitors to Bali. Bali welcomed 3,647 Russian citizens during the first five months of this year. 

In the years leading up to the pandemic, there was an increasing focus in Bali on catering to Russian tourists. Travel operators had begun improving the availability of tours, day trips, and experiences with Russian-speaking tour guides. There are a number of hotels in Bali that are focusing on giving their staff Russian language lessons too. Markets and shops are also considering the preferences of Russian tourists too.

Speaking from the Bali Tourism Office, Mr. Gunandika, the Head of Tourism Market Development, said ‘Before the COVID-19 Pandemic, tourists Russia is in the fourth place with the most tourist visits to the Island of the Gods and per year it reaches 300 thousand to 400 thousand’ he went on to explain how many Russian people come to Bali on a longer-term basis than other holidaymakers.

‘They also spend money in Bali, because while working at least he rents a villa’. As Indonesia prepares to launch the digital nomad visa, authorities will be working hard to remove hurdles for citizens of target countries, like Russia. Resuming the direct flight to Bali would be a prime example of that.  

Indonesia Considering Digital Nomad Visa Offering 5 Year Stays In Bali

Gunandika went on to explain how he hoped that the resumption of the Moscow-Bali flight route would increase tourist numbers, since the flight time becomes shorter and more affordable. Travelers can avoid the hassle of a layover in Singapore or in the United Arab Emirates. Unlike some countries, Indonesia is not issuing travel restrictions or sanctions on Russian travelers.

Since Jokowi’s meeting with Putin at the Kremlin in Moscow on the 30th of June, President Putin has confirmed that International flights to Bali will be resumed but has not given a specific date. This confirmation was happily received by Bali’s Governor Koster who wants to increase tourism opportunities across the island for Russian tourists.

Speaking at Samsat Office in Denpasar on Friday 1st July, Governor Koster responded to news of Putin’s wishes to resume direct flights by saying ‘We certainly think it’s very good. We are grateful because Mr. President has visited President Putin”.

Bali Tourism Director Says Island's Recovery Is Being Limited By Flight Availability

The Indonesian Minister for Tourism and Creative Industries has yet to release a comment about these discussions and has previously stated how he wants to diversify tourism across Indonesia. Both in terms of the destinations that travelers visit within Indonesia, and diversifying the countries and demographics from which travelers belong. 

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Randy

Wednesday 6th of July 2022

Putin's popularity has risen among many Russians. It is only fair that citizens should not be judged by their current national political situation. However Indonesia's neutrality in this current climate should tread carefully.

The willingness to bridge a liaison for direct tourism between Russia and Indonesia may be of Indonesia's main interest. Generating income from impassive Generation Z Russian tourists is vital to revive the Balinese economy. But at the same time Indonesia is known for their open hospitality that may always be taken for granted by many outsiders.

Randy

Friday 8th of July 2022

@Gyspe, did I say that I am siding with the Russians?? Why don't you read my statement again... And of course the revenue lost during the pandemic will not make up the difference to bring Bali back to normal. Not even from the Russians for that matter.

But if you start blaming their citizens for their leader being out of wack then you do not understand how sanctions and boycotting could help anything to bring peace on both sides.

Gyspe

Thursday 7th of July 2022

@Randy, who do you think will bring more money to Bali, the zombie criminal Russians, or rest of the western world?

The fact that there is even a negotiation with terroristic Russian state that is killing civilians in Ukraine daily, is utterly disrespectful to anyone around them.

This should lead to a boycott from western countries. Choose if you side with 21st century values, or with the failed Russian state which is becoming second North Korea over the coming years.

Wayan Bo

Tuesday 5th of July 2022

For many other tourists from far overseas countries such EU, U. S. A. , … Bali is becoming almost unattractive and pricy by comparing with another nice destinations.

Randy

Wednesday 6th of July 2022

@Wayan Bo, wrong !!

Bali devotee

Tuesday 5th of July 2022

given the number of visa escapees, overstays and crimes, this could have a much greater cost than the few tourists who can make it out and have to carry their money in their own hands, since their credit cards don't work. Just a little too eager to open Bali up at any and all costs, especially after all the governor's talk about the quality of tourists?

Neil gill

Monday 4th of July 2022

I know tourism wants more money but do you think this is the right time with what is happening to their neighbours at the moment

Mark CHAPPELL

Monday 4th of July 2022

Maybe governor will fain few Russians but loose many other countries need balance carefully and no I not anti any country I neutral