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G20 summit throws spotlight on revival of Bali’s tourism

Dozens of world leaders and other dignitaries are travelling to Bali for the G-20 summit, drawing a welcome spotlight on the revival of the tropical island’s vital tourism sector.

Tourism is the main source of income on this idyllic “island of the gods” that is home to more than 4 million people.
So the pandemic hit Bali harder than most places in Indonesia.

Before the pandemic, 6.2 million foreigners arrived in Bali each year. Its lively tourism scene faded after the first case of Covid-19 was found in Indonesia in March 2020, with restaurants and resorts shuttered and many workers returning to villages to try to get by.

Foreign tourist arrivals dropped to only 1 million in 2020, mostly in the first few months of the year, and then to a few dozen in 2021, according to government data. More than 92,000 people employed in tourism lost their jobs and the average occupancy rate of Bali hotels fell below 20 per cent.

The island’s economy contracted 9.3 per cent in 2020 from the year before and again contracted nearly 2.5 per cent year-on-year in 2021.
“The coronavirus outbreak has hammered the local economy horribly,” said Dewa Made Indra, regional secretary of Bali province. “Bali is the region with the most severe economic contraction.”

Things are looking much better now. Shops and restaurants in places like Nusa Dua, a resort area where the G-20 meeting is being held, and in other towns like Sanur and Kuta have reopened, though business is slow and many businesses and hotels are still closed or have scaled back operations.

The reopening of Bali’s airport to international flights and now the thousands coming for the G-20 summit and other related events have raised hopes for a stronger turnaround, Dewa said.

More than 1.5 million foreign tourists and 3.1 million domestic travellers had visited Bali as of October this year.

Embracing a push toward more sustainable models of tourism, Bali has rolled out a digital nomad visa scheme, called the “second home visa” and due to take effect in December. It’s also among 20 destinations Airbnb recently announced it was partnering with for remote work, also including places in the Caribbean and the Canary Islands. (Source HT)

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