Indonesia is reviewing a plan to reopen its tourist areas to foreign visitors, which could stall Bali’s plan to welcome back foreigners next month.
Authorties remain concerned that reopening to international arrivals could compromise efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus, State-Owned Enterprises Minister Erick Thohir said on Saturday.
Thohir, who oversees the country’s coronavirus taskforce, was responding to a question about whether the government would go ahead with a plan to reopen Bali, Indonesia’s most popular tourist spot, on Sept 11 as scheduled.
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The resort island began to welcome back domestic tourists on July 31, with appropriate health and safety protocols in place, but their return cannot offset the absence of foreigners. About 6.3 million foreign tourists visited Bali last year.
“We don’t want that the programme to make Indonesia healthy become compromised by the plan to allow foreign tourists to come, and it creates possible new clusters,” Thohir said in an online discussion on Saturday.
“Therefore, the committee has decided to review this plan to allow foreign tourists to come.”
Foreign holidaymakers, who generate billions of dollars in revenue, remain a critical part of Indonesia’s economy, he said. The world’s fourth-most populous country continues to see large daily increases in the number of new Covid-19 cases, which now total 135,000, with just over 6,000 deaths.