Bali’s tourism industry has welcomed back Australian travellers and airlines with open arms this week, after two years without the lucrative buying power of Aussies desperate for a tropical holiday.
It comes after Jetstar, the first Australian airline to return to the island, performed its first flight to Bali in nearly two years on Monday packed with nearly 300 eager travellers.
As the flight landed, Bali tourism bodies Travel Indonesia and Bali Tourism Board, together with Denpasar Airport, organised a welcome event at the airport to celebrate Jetstar’s return to the island, marking the return of the first Australian airline to Bali.
Australian Aviation attended the event, which included a large welcome banner, traditional Balinese dress, a chocolate cake, and much-needed water and refreshments.
Later on Monday, the governor of Bali welcomed Jetstar and Australian media to dinner at the Governor’s home and meeting place, alongside key tourism vendors, including hotel owners and travel agents.
Prior to the pandemic, more than 1.3 million Australians made the trip to Indonesia’s most popular island destination, making it the second most popular destination for travelling Aussies in 2019, just after New Zealand. Australians were also the largest tourist cohort to visit the island in 2019.
According to the Governor of Bali, Wayan Koster, tourism accounts for over 50 per cent of Bali’s economy, meaning that the return of Australians to the island following easing travel restrictions is a welcome relief for the country.
The governor said he has had to work with and push Indonesia’s central government to ease restrictions for international travellers into Bali, adopting separate rules than the rest of Indonesia.
At present, travellers from 23 countries can enter Bali under the island’s visa-on-arrival system, however, must follow a number of key entry rules.
Travellers must prove they have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, must present a negative COVID-19 PCR test both within the 48 hours prior to travel and immediately upon arrival at the airport, and must take out COVID-19 travel insurance cover of at least US$25,000.
Further, travellers must download Bali’s COVID-19 smartphone app and complete an electronic health certificate, or e-HAC, which contains proof of vaccination and pre-travel PCR results, along with an electronic customs declaration.
Additionally, under the visa-on-arrival requirement, travellers must be able to show proof of at least three nights’ accommodation at an approved resort or hotel.
Despite the currently extensive pre-travel requirements, Governor Koster remains confident that this is only the beginning of Bali’s recovery.
“The Balinese people are delighted [to welcome Australians back to the island],” Governor Koster said.
“The Balinese economy again relies heavily on tourism, so the past two weeks have been very challenging times with the loss of business closing down, [and] people being laid off.
“So, I believe with this new policy, and based on what we have seen today, this will be a key turning point to improve the economy and tourism in Bali step by step.”