JAKARTA (THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The world-renowned resort island of Bali is ready to welcome international tourists before Christmas, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation.
UN WTO Asia and Pacific director Harry Hwang, who led a delegation to Bali for an on-site assessment, said his team had seen first-hand the implementation of health and safety measures devised by the Indonesian government and the Bali administration to prepare the reopening of the island for international tourists.
"I am extremely happy to see Indonesia and Bali. You guys are ready to open for tourism soon, or next year. I wouldn't be surprised if the government announced that Bali is open before Christmas," Mr Hwang told reporters in Nusa Dua on Thursday (Dec 10).
The delegation was in Bali this week to host a capacity-building workshop on restarting international tourism, the first of its kind in Asia. The team also conducted visits to Bali's Ngurah Rai International Airport and several tourist destinations.
"The standards and safety protocol, I found them excellent, if not the best there are," he said. "I hope our collaboration with the government of Indonesia can be a good example that neighbouring countries, other countries in Asia, can learn (from)."
Relying heavily on tourism, Bali has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. Around 60 percent of its gross regional product comes from tourism, and under normal circumstances the island attracts more than 10 million visitors a year, most of whom are foreigners.
The island's economy contracted by 10.98 per cent year-on-year in the second quarter of this year as thousands of people in the tourism sector lost their jobs. Bali lost an estimated Rp 48.5 trillion (S$4.4 billion) in tourism revenue between March and July, according to data from the Bali Tourism Agency.