Bali Governor Wayan Koster says he is in no hurry to reopen tourist attractions across the province, emphasizing that Bali will implement a carefully planned approach to welcome a “new era” for the popular holiday destination.
“I am not in a position where I will follow the complaints of tourism players who want to reopen quickly,” Bali Governor Wayan Koster said.
The reopening of Bali amid the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be a hot topic among officials, tourism players, and global travelers, many of whom have expressed varying degrees of optimism — since the early days of the coronavirus outbreak — that Pulau Dewata could return to some kind of normal soon. This includes the Indonesian government previously saying the reopening could happen as early as October.
Tourism players said in April that Bali stands to lose US$9 billion, while the country’s central bank said last month that Bali is among the hardest hit economies in Indonesia, both as a result of the pandemic.
“I do understand. Because we depend on this tourism. So many tourism players are facing a difficult time right now. Whether the businessowners or their employees. But all of this should not tempt us to make a rash decision, especially when it’s not based on adequate data,” he continued.
According to the latest official data, Bali has so far confirmed 760 COVID-19 cases, including 502 recoveries and 6 deaths. The province is seeing a surge in local transmission cases recently, which now make up nearly 60 percent of the provincial total.
In an exclusive interview with local news outlet Tribun, Koster said that COVID-19 is a momentum for Bali to establish a “new era,” though he stopped short of going into more details. Any plans to reopen Bali will be limited, selective, and carried out step-by-step, the governor added.
Citing the high recovery rate for Bali, the administration has reportedly received instructions to be the first to apply a “new normal” from the national COVID-19 task force and the central government, though Koster stressed that it will not be possible for the time being.
“[Initial] plans to open in June have now been delayed,” Koster said, adding that the province will focus on addressing increasing local transmissions, such as in Denpasar and Buleleng.
Koster again noted that tourist attractions — including beaches — across Bali are not to reopen just yet, though visitors have been flocking to the beach since earlier this month.