Bali talks of ‘new era’ as island prepares for eased travel restrictions amid pandemic

Quarantine-Free Flights From Australia Could Start Within Weeks
May 29, 2020
Ready to take-off! Air Canada to operate flights to 97 destinations this summer
May 29, 2020

As talk of a so-called “new normal” begins to creep into the national discourse here in Indonesia, tourism players in Bali are reportedly drafting guidelines for health protocols with views abound that the time after COVID-19 will establish a “new era” for the popular holiday destination.

The Indonesian government has expressed optimism that Bali could reopen to tourists in October, citing the province’s perceived success thus far in controlling the coronavirus outbreak. 

As of May 25, there were 407 reported COVID-19 cases in the province, including 295 recoveries and four deaths.

I Made Ramia Adnyana, a deputy chairman of the Bali Hotel General Managers Association (IHGMA), said that preparations to embrace the new normal will further improve the quality of tourism in Bali. 

“I am certain that this process will make Bali a destination of even higher quality, because we have a premium product with a premium price,” Ramia said. 

He added that the Bali Tourism Agency is drafting a standard operating procedure (SOP) to welcome the new normal phase, and said that it covers various aspects, including arrival at the airport, the immigration process, and check-ins at hotels. According to Ramia, plans are in place for Bali to firstly restart tourism activities in the Nusa Dua area, before extending the reopening to Ubud, Kuta and other popular tourist destinations in the province.

Ketut Swabawa, who is also an IHGMA deputy chairman, said that the SOP will not only cover aspects such as physical distancing or hand sanitizers, but also nurturing a mindset and fostering a health-oriented attitude among the staff. 

“[Because] even if the hotels are already implementing hygiene [standard], but outside of it [the staff] don’t have the same standard, we can expect a second wave of COVID-19,” Swabawa said. 

Swabawa noted the importance of developing a thorough ecosystem for the new normal phase before easing travel restrictions, and highlighted how operational expenses to implement these quality standards will likely increase the price of hotel rooms as well. 

These efforts from Bali tourism players followed a recent announcement from the Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry, which says it will implement a Cleanliness, Health and Safety (CHS) program across the archipelago’s top tourist destinations, as it prepares to welcome visitors after the coronavirus pandemic.