DENPASAR • Bali, Indonesia's most popular holiday destination, will welcome back visitors this month, even though the resort island saw a fourfold rise in coronavirus cases last month, as pressure mounts on the authorities to rescue the battered tourism industry.
While local tourists can visit the island's beaches, temples and popular surfing spots from Thursday, foreign visitors will be allowed to do so only from Sept 11, the Bali government said in a statement.
The reopening of the tourism industry is part of a plan to restart the economy in phases, it said.
Bali, popular with backpackers and other holidaymakers from Australia to China, had some success in containing the virus outbreak in its early phase, but saw infections soar last month with the return of more migrant workers and a ramp-up in testing.
The island's tourism-dependent economy was ravaged by the nearly four-month shutdown of hundreds of resorts and hotels.
"We must continue to make the best efforts to handle Covid-19 while, at the same time, we must begin to carry out activities for the sake of community life," Bali's Governor Wayan Koster said.
The governor appealed to citizens to wear masks in public, avoid large gatherings and practise social distancing to stem the spread of the virus.
The number of people infected by the virus in Bali jumped to 1,849 on Sunday, from just 465 at the start of June, with 20 people succumbing to the disease, official data show.
With foreign and domestic tourists absent, hotel occupancy in Bali slumped to 2.1 per cent in May from 52 per cent a year ago, according to official data.
Indonesia still remains in the grip of the pandemic, with new cases mounting by more than a 1,000 every day in the past two weeks. The country has the most number of infections and fatalities in South-east Asia. BLOOMBERG, JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK