Bali is opening and West Australians will finally be able to return to their favorite holiday spot.
They’ll have to be quarantined for five days when they arrive in Bali, and then two weeks after they return to WA. This is a burden that tourism operators believe few holidaymakers are willing to accept.
Officials from Indonesia announced Monday that Bali will welcome all foreign tourists this week. The quarantine period for international travelers who have not been vaccinated was shortened from seven to five days.
Pre-pandemic, approximately 7500 West Australians would fly weekly to Bali.
Tourists coming from Perth, Australia, which is closer than Jakarta to Australia’s east coast capitals will need to spend 14 days in quarantine before they can return home to Australia.
One Perth-based tourist operator did not wish to be identified and told The Australian Financial Review that “Bali is opening but we can’t get there.”
Dick Chandler, founder of the marine tourism company Bali Hai Cruises is also exasperated.
He stated that Indonesia’s decision not to tighten border controls was “a small light at the end a long tunnel” after Bali was closed off to international tourists in 2020.
However, the five-day quarantine period would slow down international tourists’ return to Bali. Premier Mark McGowan’s hard border effectively stops Western Australians from traveling there.
“Until Mr McGowan is more realistic about border restrictions,” said Mr Chandler.
“I would like to see more realism. The world will have to accept COVID in some way. I would like to see West Australians behave as Australians and not as islands within islands.
Bali Hai Cruises is headquartered in Perth. However, it operates day cruises to Lembongan Island 26 kms off the coast from Bali. There, it also manages a resort that employed 490 locals prior to COVID-19.
The last time Mr Chandler visited the island was March 2020, to celebrate 30 years of business. He has not been back since.
Earnings are lost
Bali Hai Cruises laid off 420 employees and hired 70 more to help keep the business afloat. The company has lost about $6 million in retained earnings to stay afloat during the crisis.
Chris Golding, owner of Dream Weddings in Bali in Perth, supports Mr McGowan’s decision to keep the borders open.
He said, “I have relatives and friends in the US and in the UK and they’ve been devastated by what’s happening over there.”
“We have been well protected here, and we must continue to be protected, especially when omicron causes problems in the eastern States.”
Dean Long, chief of the Australian Federation of Travel Agents, welcomed the announcement from Bali. However, he stated that the number of tourists would not return to prepandemic levels until the quarantine requirement was lifted.
He stated that any quarantine is an immediate disincentive. This is especially true when there are other options available, such as Fiji or Queensland where you can have the same experience for a shorter time.
Jetstar spokeswoman, who said that the airline is waiting to hear from the Indonesian government on specific entry and quarantine requirements prior to adding flights.
She said, “Once we have clearer information, we will provide an updated if there are any modifications to our Bali flights which are currently scheduled for take off from Melbourne or Sydney in early March.”