Several news outlets recently reported that Indonesia currently plans to reopen Bali to international tourists sometime this fall.
The country has been one of the worst-hit nations in Southeast Asia, with 4.19 million cases and 140,000 deaths. So understandably, the current plan is hinged on when 70% of the eligible population has received at least one COVID vaccine shot.
Roughly 23% of the country’s population has been vaccinated since January. Based on its current speed of giving shots (10% of the population every 41 days or so), it doesn’t look like Indonesia will reach its goal until 2022, frankly.
However, an interesting factoid was going around when the Indonesian Maritime and Investment Coordinator Minister, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan stated during a press conference earlier this month that Bali will not allow backpackers to visit the island once the international travel corridor reopened.
“We will filter tourists that visit,” he said during a virtual conference on September 10th. “We’ll aim for quality tourism in Bali, so we won’t allow backpackers to enter once the reopening plan for international travelers is officially put in place in the near future.” Luhut was quoted as saying in The Bali Sun.
Tourism is big business in Bali – the island has had year over year increases in tourism since the 1980s. Prior to COVID, Bali had hosted over 6 million tourists in 2018 alone.
Of course, incoming tourism money is great, but as a result, Bali had been suffering from increased over-tourism for years. Water shortages, environmental degradation, sanitation issues, overcrowded destinations, loss of authenticity, and higher cost of living have been plaguing the city.
Despite all this, for a government official to say they’re going to filter out one particular tourist group, backpackers, is pretty cringeworthy, to say the least. Because obviously, it wasn’t just backpackers who caused Bali’s overtourism problem.
Indonesian officials must have realized this because they quickly made a follow-up statement. Luhut’s spokesperson, Jodi Mahardi clarified by saying that the minister didn’t mean to pigeonhole backpackers. “[He meant that] the country will not allow the entry of foreigners who break health protocols, law, or immigration law.”
Big difference, there.
Feature Photo: Maxi Pixel
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary