Tourist hot spot Bali to stay closed to foreign visitors for rest of 2020 as coronavirus continues to spread

People visiting Kuta beach on the Indonesian resort island of Bali, on Aug 15, 2020. PHOTO: AFP

DENPASAR (BLOOMBERG) - The Indonesian island of Bali will remain closed to foreign visitors for the rest of 2020 after the authorities postponed a plan to welcome back international tourists from Sept 11 as the coronavirus continues to spread.

"The Indonesian government couldn't reopen its doors to foreign travellers until the end of 2020 as we remain a red zone," Bali Governor I Wayan Koster said in a statement. "The situation is not conducive to allowing foreign tourists to come to Indonesia, including to Bali."

After some success in containment early on, Bali's infection rate jumped in June as migrant workers returned home and testing increased. The island had 4,513 confirmed cases as of Sunday (Aug 23) and 52 deaths, government figures show.

Indonesia as a whole has more than 150,000 confirmed cases and 6,680 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Bali has been open to local travellers since the end of July, and as many as 2,500 people have been arriving through its airport every day without causing a spike in infections, Mr Koster said.

The local government will focus on increasing the number of domestic visitors to help the tourism industry and economy recover, he said.

Over six million foreign tourists visited Bali last year, accounting for more than a third of Indonesia's total.

The government warned in April that the pandemic could wipe out more than US$10 billion (S$13.7 billion) of Indonesia's tourism revenue this year, a forecast that is likely to worsen now because it assumed there would be some recovery in the second half.

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