COVID-19 continues to produce the endless bummer
As the COVID-19 pandemic drags on international travel is unlikely to be on the cards anytime soon. Bali has announced it will close its borders to international tourists until 2021 after earmarking plans to reopen in September.
As the virus spreads across the region into neighbouring Java, Bali’s Governer this week decided that despite the island’s heavy reliance on tourism, it was still too early to reopen.
"We cannot open the gate to international travellers until the end of 2020 as the situation in Indonesia, including Bali, is not yet safe to welcome them," Bali's Governor Wayan Koster said in a statement last Saturday.
The ABC reported this week that the coronavirus cases in Indonesia currently stand at 157,800 and 6,800 deaths, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University. However, that figure is likely to be much higher.
Since tourism is the main source of income for most locals, many workers have been laid off as travel restrictions deeply impact the island’s economy. The occupancy rate of Bali's hotels is down to 2.07 per cent in May, according to the island's statistic bureau.
Those laid off have been forced to return to their villages to find other sources of income and in many cases, find work in the agriculture sector and work the land as the Balinese did for generations before the tourism boom on the island.
Gede Robi Supriyanto, a musician and environmental activist told the ABC many Balinese are making a “cultural shift” and beginning to take care of water sources, paying more attention to nature, and repurposing lands that had previously been used for tourism infrastructure.
He believes Bali had been exploiting its environment for tourism prior to the pandemic and was now "resetting".
"People are rethinking to preserve their nature and culture, whether accidentally or forced to because of the pandemic," he said.
Considering the number of Australian surfers who flock to Bali each season many would be shattered that a trip to the Island of the Gods is not on the cards this year. Hopefully, Bali can navigate its way out of this hole. In the past the Balinese have shown themselves to be incredibly resilient. The next smile and perfect wave we receive when this pandemic blows over will be all the sweeter.