JAKARTA: Indonesia began allowing quarantine-free entry for foreigners traveling to Bali on Monday, in a trial run that officials said could be applied nationwide from April.
Travelers from 23 countries, including the ASEAN countries, the US, Australia and the UAE, can now get a visa on arrival for $35 at Ngurah Rai International Airport, though they must be fully vaccinated and test negative for COVID-19 prior to their departure to the popular holiday destination.
The government brought forward the quarantine-free trial plan by a week after deciding that Indonesia is ready to step into a “transition period” as infection and fatality rates remain relatively low.
“If this trial is successful, we will implement quarantine-free travel for all arrivals from abroad arriving in the country by April 1, 2022, or even sooner,” Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Pandjaitan, who oversees Indonesia’s COVID-19 response, said during a virtual press conference.
Under the latest policy, visitors must take a PCR test upon arrival, show proof of a minimum four-day hotel booking in Bali, and have health insurance that guarantees COVID-19 coverage. Visitors are expected to take another PCR on their third day in the country.
Indonesia officially opened Bali to visitors from 19 countries last October, when travelers had to be quarantined for five days upon arrival. However, international arrivals only returned last month, when scheduled flights finally touched down in Denpasar.
Since Feb. 3, Ngurah Rai has welcomed over 2,500 international visitors, head of information at Ngurah Rai Immigration Office Putu Suhendra told Arab News.
Bali’s economy is largely dependent on the tourism sector, which contributes more than half of the province’s GDP. In 2019, the island known for its beaches, temples and lively nightlife, welcomed around 6.2 million foreign visitors, mostly from Australia and China.
After two years of the pandemic bringing tourist activity to a halt, tourism stakeholders are hopeful that the latest policy will boost industry recovery.
“Hopefully with the eased (restrictions) for travelers visiting Bali, tourism can gradually recover, and so does the Bali economy,” Hariyadi B. S. Sukamdani, chairman of the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association, told reporters.
“That’s what we’re hoping for.”