DENPASAR, Indonesia, October 14 (Hfrance.fr ) - The Indonesian holiday island of Bali reopened to foreign tourists after an 18-month pandemic hiatus on Thursday, but the island is missing a crucial ingredient: international flights.
The government recently announced the reopening of Bali after a sharp drop in coronavirus cases since July, when Indonesia was Asia 's epicenter of COVID-19.
But new overseas visitors were nowhere to be found on Thursday.
Although the island 's Ngurah Rai International Airport has carried out exercises to prepare for the return of tourists, it doesn ' t expect much anytime soon.
" So far there is no tible "said Taufan Yudhistira, spokesperson for the airport.
Known for its surfing, temples, waterfalls and nightlife, Bali drew 6.2 million foreign visitors in the year before COVID-19 ore hit, but restrictions strict pandemic s have devastated tourism, which accounts for 54% of its economy.
January to June of this year, only 35 foreign tourists entered Bali through its airport.
In downtown Kuta, right next to its famous beach, shops and bars were open on Thursday but with only a few customers, while taxi drivers waited outside.
"We are really helpless said driver Yohanan, 52, waiting on the sidewalk. "We hope tourists can come here, but none have.
Government preparations might be the reason.
Details on the reopening were patchy and Indonesia identified only 19 eligible countries on Wednesday evening. These include China, India, Japan, South Korea, and several countries in Europe and the Gulf.
Thailand started its reopening in July with muc h en fanfare, with the islands of Samui and Phuket welcome vaccinated tourists from most countries, with hundreds arriving on opening days. Vietnam will welcome visitors to its island of Phu Quoc next month.
But the plan to reopen Bali does not match demand.
I Putu Astawa of the island tourism agency said hotel reservations were low, adding that the timing was "so sudden ".
"They need time to take care of visas and flights " he said.
In addition to requiring visitors to Bali to be vaccinated against COVID-19, Indonesia said they must pass their cfirst few days in quarantine, a requirement that rival destinations gradually disappear.
This also requires medical coverage of up to $ 70,000 for COVID - 19 treatment.
Ida Bagus Purwa Sidemen, of the Bali Hotel and Restaurant Association, said that while the island was ready to you rists, this "does not mean that all the guests suddenly visit ". Reporting by Sultan Anshori in Denpasar and Agustinus Beo Da Costa in Jakarta; Additional reporting by Bernadette Christina and Stanley Widianto; Writing by Kate Lamb; Edited by Martin Petty, Robert Birsel
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