Want to travel back to Bali? The island may open its borders as early as June 2021 following the start of a major vaccination drive and planned "Green Zones".
Ever since the Coronavirus pandemic forced Indonesia to close its borders back in March 2020, all eyes have been on the government to see when (and how) the borders will reopen to international travellers. However, on March 22nd 2021, Indonesia’s Minister of Tourism, Sandiaga Uno, kickstarted a mass vaccination drive in Bali with plans to reopen “Green Zones” to international tourists as early as June 2021.
What we know about Bali’s planned “Green Zones”
Indonesia’s Minister of Tourism, Sandiaga Uno, has proposed a “travel corridor arrangement” with several countries, which could include China, Singapore, the Netherlands, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and more. He has also kickstarted a vaccination drive in the Gianyar Regency to create three “Green Zones” in Bali. The designated “Green Zones” so far are Ubud, Sanur and Nusa Dua.
The plan is to vaccinate the entire community within these zones, with the aim vaccinate at least 1000 people per day in order to make way for safe travel for vaccinated tourists by June or July 2021. The exact details on the reopening are not yet set in stone, but so far we know that there are talks of a tracking app for international tourists, and ‘safe routes’ to the Green Zones.
The reopening plan in action
In early July, Bali’s Governor, I Wayan Koster, released a gradual Three-Phase Reopening Plan, with Phase One and Two now underway. As part of Koster’s reopening plan, domestic tourists can now travel freely from around Indonesia to and from Bali, providing they arrive with a negative Rapid Antigen or PCR test and follow all stipulated safety protocols.
This new initiative from Indonesia’s Tourism Minister may help to kickstart Phase Three of reopening, which includes a three-phase vaccination plan and would allow entry into Bali for pre-vaccinated international tourists. Currently, no tourist visas are being issued, and there is no talk of the Visas on Arrival being reinstated just yet, but if Phase Three of Reopening begins in June, this could change very soon.
So what is the re-opening plan for Bali?
Phase One of Reopening
The first phase of reopening began on July 9th, 2020, aimed predominantly at the reopening of local businesses and trades. According to the National Task Force for the Acceleration of Handling Covid-19, Phase 1 allows the operation of local businesses, venues and commerce, including health services, restaurants, government offices, customs, local and traditional markets, transportation, agriculture and places of worship, to name just a few. Tourism attractions, however, remained closed until Phase 2.
Phase Two of Reopening
The second phase of reopening began on July 31st 2020. In Phase 2, Bali reopened the island to all domestic tourists, including tourism attractions, such as waterfalls, temples, beaches and places of interest, as well as tourism activities and tours. This means that Indonesian tourists (and foreigners currently in Indonesia) are now able to travel and explore the island for the purpose of tourism.
Phase Three of Reopening
The third and final phase of reopening includes the plan to reopen Bali to international tourism and foreign travellers. Phase 3 was rumoured to begin on September 11th 2020, however, this was suspended indefinitely subject to Covid-19 developments.
However, following these new initiatives from Indonesia’s Minister of Tourism, the island could re-open to tourists as early as June 2021. Although specific details are still unclear, so far we know that the three proposed “Green Zones” are already rolling out a mass vaccination drive to create an immunised community that’s safe for vaccinated international tourists. The three Green Zones are Ubud, Sanur and Nusa Dua, and the vaccination drive is currently in the second phase.
But let’s not forgot: previous reopening plans were postponed…
While we are VERY excited about the prospect of Bali’s borders reopening this year, we do have to consider the fact that plans are likely to change. After all, it’s not the first time we’ve heard of a potential reopening that was later postponed. Bali’s Governor had aimed to open international tourism back in September 2020, but later announced that the current situation in Indonesia is not yet conducive to allowing foreign tourists to visit Indonesia (including Bali) and the Temporary Prohibition of Foreigners Entering the Territory of the Republic of Indonesia remained in effect.
Koster also pointed out that most countries around the world have not yet allowed their citizens to travel freely overseas, suggesting that Indonesia will follow suit. He points out that the Covid-19 pandemic is still hostile, and reopening too soon would threaten the health and safety of citizens.
However, despite the continued closure of Indonesia’s international borders, the Central Government strongly supports Bali’s plan to restore tourism. After all, Bali isn’t the only destination in Asia that’s planning these ‘travel corridors’ this year, with Singapore, Korea and Hong Kong all making their own plans for safe travel options.
So, keep you fingers crossed, and watch this space!