The Impact of COVID-19 on Bali's Tourism Industry

31/03/2020

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As expected, tourist numbers continue to dwindle, with everywhere much quieter than it would normally be at this time of the year.

It seems that expats are divided into two groups: those who have already gone home to Australia/Europe/USA and those who have decided to remain here for the duration of the crises.

Aussies who recently left are now in a two-week government quarantine while finding flights back to other destinations are made difficult by restrictions at hub airports such as Singapore & Hong Kong.

Remaining expats realise the risk is that if they are seriously ill in Bali there is no guarantee that they will get the appropriate medical care, however, can continue to enjoy the empty line-ups and sunshine.

Tourists remaining here are waiting for their flight out in the next week or so and most are stuck due to travel issues such as cancelled flights. Hardly anyone has arrived in Bali recently and I guess the airport is deadly quiet.

What Does This Mean for the Locals?

Immigrant workers from Java and other islands slowly drift back to their homes as there is no work in Bali for the foreseeable future.

Balinese locals seem to be progressively getting the message about the dangers and risks and it was helpful that the Balinese governor cancelled religious ceremonies after Nyepi to underline the importance of social distancing.

Nobody knows what is going to happen in the next few days in terms of controls. There are, of course, confirmed cases in Bali but most of them have been imported from other countries by doing visa runs and tourists arriving. Unfortunately, not enough tests are being done.

Bali has experienced a five-day lockdown and the Indonesian federal government is under pressure to take action, particularly regarding the greater Jakarta area which has a serious problem. The government told workers to stay in Jakarta and not go home to their villages for risk of spreading the virus, but this is unlikely to stop anyone.

Those that have already lost their jobs in Jakarta are more than likely to head home with the risk of spreading the disease en route back to their kampung.

Bali's Beach Lockdown

While the whole of Bali seemed to have followed the governor's instruction to extend the Nyepi lockdown to the 30th, the restrictions were not applied to the Canggu area and it seems that everyone flocked to the beaches. The Badung provincial administration ordered Canggu to close their beaches until further notice.

padang-padang-beach-closed-covid-19

Most of the other beaches who followed the order to close duly did so. Other Kampung (villages) have followed stricter guidelines, for example, in Balian, no one has been able to enter the village since March 24th other than local residents. The main roads are under the control of the federal government but it is the local authority who can decide access to minor roads to their villages. Some minor roads remain closed since Nyepi "until further notice".

Our unapologetic view is that people should continue surfing, where possible, to stay healthy and fit if they can observe social distancing and obey all local and national government advice and restrictions. Some surf breaks will close and Bali is not currently an island paradise.

Social distancing in Bali Continues

It is noticeable that people are being careful and want to avoid an epidemic in Bali.

Social distancing is going to be with us for a very long time if Bali is going to avoid an epidemic. Nightclubs and larger venues have already closed with some restaurants remaining open.

We could continue to be fortunate here. We currently have very few cases and a chance that the politicians in charge will remain ahead of the curve. There hasn’t been panic buying with toilet paper or other necessities here, it seems much calmer and more organised.

Good luck to everyone everywhere else in the world who has got it bad from all of us at the surf camp.