Two major stakeholders in Bali’s tourism industry- The Association of Indonesian Tour and Travel Agencies (ASITA) and The Indonesian Guide Association (HPI), have called on the government to reopen the Island’s tourism industry.
Both organizations point to Bali’s economic collapse and worsening condition against the backdrop of prolonged uncertainty as to when the situation might improve.
The Secretary of ASITA-Bali, Putu Winastra, said on Thursday, 18 June 2020: “ASITA Bali calls on the Provincial Government of Bali to urgently reopen tourism. There is no need to wait until October 2020.”
Winastra continued, saying ASITA-Bali urges the government to be unafraid and restart tourism in Bali that has been next to death for the past four months. “Don’t’ be paranoid about COVID-19,” said Winastra, who also works as a tour and travel agent.
Winastra argues that if tourism reopened amid the current COVID-19 Pandemic, Bali, in any case, would not suffer an immediate flood of tourist visitors, but reawaken slowly starting with Balinese customers. The ASITA officer continued, insisting that the restart of tourism would only happen under strict protocols to safeguard health, such as requirements to wear masks, routine temperature checks, physical distancing rules, the use of hand sanitizers, and frequent hand washing.
“Health protocols have to be implemented correctly, with no violations or exceptions,” said Winastra.
Similar sentiments were spoken by the chairman of HPI Bali, I Nyoman Nuarta, who said: “The directors of HPI-Bali urges the government to reopen Bali tourism quickly. I think Bali is ready because it already has health protocols in place.”
Nuarta fears that if the normalization of Bali tourism continues to be postponed and clouded with uncertainty, the economy of Bali will only worsen over time. The more than 6,000 guides who are members of HPI-Bali will also face an increasingly difficult living situation.
Nuarta wants the government to restart tourism now in the “new normal” and allow the Island to adapt to the situation as it develops. Adding: “It’s OK for the Government to be careful, but being careful means life must go on, and tourism needs to continue.”
Nuarta supports moves by the government to give public health top priority in the fight against COVID-19. On the other hand, he argues that if the economy is ignored and collapses further, this will also create serious problems, resulting in what he termed an “economic pandemic.”
Nuarta closed, saying, “I ask that Bali tourism be reopened as soon as possible.”