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October 21, 2021updated 24 Nov 2021 5:20am

Bali’s new entry rules not enough for immediate recovery

After the adverse effects of the pandemic, Bali is reopening its borders to travellers from 19 nations, although the exclusion of Australia and Singapore can be detrimental.

By Globaldata Travel and Tourism

The prolonged pandemic struck the Indonesian resort island of Bali causing a detrimental impact on the economic sector due to strict travel restrictions. After 18 months, the popular white-sand beaches are welcoming selected international travellers from 19 nations although the omission of key source markets and strict entry requirements could deter arrivals.

Major source markets failed to make Bali entry list

Vaccinated visitors from 19 nations, including Japan, China, New Zealand and India, can now travel to Bali and Indonesia’s Riau Islands. Travellers are subject to Covid testing prior to and on arrival, as well as a five-day quarantine period. Having suffered from ongoing travel restrictions for 18 months, the plans to welcome international arrivals are considered a milestone for Indonesia’s tourism-dependent islands. Yet several major inbound markets for the country, including Bali’s key source markets of Australia and neighbouring Singapore, were omitted from the entry list.

In 2019, pre-pandemic, 224,000 Australians and 981,000 Singaporeans visited Indonesia, according to GlobalData. Excluding these major markets could prolong the country’s tourism industry recovery. The reopening of Bali should support the eventual return of tourists to Indonesia in 2022 and beyond. 2022 is forecasted to experience a significant rise in visitors from Japan with the numbers set to increase by 60.2% YoY to 345,000 by 2022 while visitors from China are forecasted to rise by 59.1% YoY to 613,000 by 2022. However, current outbound travel restrictions do not permit leisure travel and until this occurs visitation from key source markets will not occur.

Indonesia’s partial reopening is a positive step, but the lack of markets included further delays the recovery of the country’s tourism sector. Indonesia’s partial reopening will not cause a sudden uptick in arrivals. The limited list and restrictions on travellers leaving some of the countries on the list will mean meaningful recovery is some way off. Travellers worldwide are becoming more desperate to escape abroad and Bali will continue to be a sought after destination. However, the delay in reopening due to Covid-19 and the cautious step taken by Indonesia is likely to increase the prospect of neighbouring tourist hotspots capturing travellers who would usually visit Indonesia and Bali as fewer entry restrictions are in place.

Sun and beach trips could drive visitation

According to GlobalData’s Q3 2021 consumer survey*, 57% of global respondents said they typically opt for sun and beach holidays. The same survey revealed that 43% of Australian respondents and 71% of Chinese respondents typically opt for sun and beach holidays. Although China has made the list, the restrictions on outbound travel from the country mean Bali will not see any benefit in the short term. Similarly, Australia’s borders are still firmly shut. The opportunity for Bali will come when both countries reopen borders. An influx of visitation could occur from sun-seeking tourists. Bali’s strong product will be attractive. To ensure Bali remains an attractive destination the government could look to reduce quarantine time or abandon the plan for Bali, in order to attract more visitors and compete with other quarantine-free, sunny beach holiday destinations such as Thailand’s Phuket sandbox programme.

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Additionally, Indonesia could explore forming two-way travel corridors with other nations with similar case rates to safely facilitate the return of international tourists. Australia could be a key target in the coming months as the country explores the possibility of opening its borders. Indonesia should focus on targeting tourists on the travel list to help support the tourism industry in the country.

*GlobalData Q3 2021 consumer survey, 22,499 global respondents, 362 Chinese respondents, 246 Australian respondents.

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