Direct international flights to Indonesia’s popular holiday island Bali have resumed after a nearly two-year hiatus.
All arriving travelers who are fully immunized should quarantine for five days in hotels or on boats offshore.
Officials announced in October that Bali would welcome foreign travelers from 19 countries. But there had been no direct international flights to the island until last Thursday. The first plane to arrive was a Garuda Indonesia flight from Tokyo.
Singapore Airlines announced last week that it would resume flights to Bali from Singapore from February 16.
Indonesia on Thursday reported 27,197 new COVID-19 infections and 38 deaths in the last 24-hour period. The country has recorded more than 4.4 million total cases since the start of the pandemic.
The latest surge in virus cases, driven by the fast-spreading version of Omicron, has been mostly centered in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta. But infections have recently “increased significantlyin Java and Bali, said Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, the government minister leading the COVID-19 response efforts in those regions.
Before the pandemic, Bali airport accepted more than 200 international flights with at least one million passengers daily. The island was closed to international flights after COVID-19 hit the world’s fourth most populous country in 2020.
Bali attracted 6.2 million foreign visitors in 2019. Last year, the country as a whole saw only 1.6 million foreign visitors, down 62% from 2020.
Tourism is the main source of income in Bali, home to over 4 million people. Bali’s tourist areas were mostly empty 20 years ago after deadly terrorist attacks that targeted foreigners. But the island has worked to overcome this image.
Local officials say reopening Bali to travelers from all countries is a start to help repair the island’s economy.
Indonesian Tourism and Economy Minister Sandiaga Uno said the reopening will also serve as a “trial” as the government prepares to host the G-20 events in Bali later this year. The G-20 is a grouping of the 20 largest economies in the world.
A G-20 meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors scheduled for mid-February was to be held in Bali. But the meeting was moved to Jakarta due to the latest increase in COVID-19 cases.
I am Jonathan Evans.
The Associated Press and Reuters reported this story. Bryan Lynn adapted the reports for VOA Learning English.
words in this story
quarantine – nm the period of time that a person or animal with or suspected of having a disease is kept away from others to prevent the spread of the disease
important – adj. important or notable
tourism – nm the activity of traveling to a place for pleasure
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