Garuda Indonesia’s first Sydney to Bali flight touched down in the Island Friday before returning to Sydney via Jakarta, ending a two-year-long hiatus.
The aircraft from Sydney to Denpasar’s Ngurah Rai International Airport carried 61 people, including 31 Australians. This is the first direct flight from Australian soil since the pandemic drove Indonesia to close its borders in 2020.
Once in Bali, passengers had to undergo PCR testing at the airport before heading to their hotels for a three-night quarantine or a “warm-up holiday” as the government prefers to call it.
The restriction allows tourists to move around the resort rather than be confined to their rooms.
Compared to similar Asian destinations where most COVID restrictions have been lifted, Bali’s rather strict entry policy has hampered the return of short-term tourists from overseas.
The restriction allows tourists to freely walk around the resort rather than be restricted to their rooms.
“The Indonesian government very much appreciates this because under current circumstances they still want to have a vacation in Bali,” said the Indonesian Consul General for Sydney, Vedi Kurnia Buana.
“That means, even though there’s still a 3-day quarantine requirement and they still go [to the island],”
Nevertheless, hotel quarantine in Bali will be lifted from Monday and visas on arrival will be available to all foreign arrivals once again.
The move is part of a new “island bubble” program that will remove quarantine requirements for Indonesia as a whole on April 1.
“The problem with quarantine now will be eliminated with the island bubble,” said Ida Bagus Agung Partha Adnyana, the chairman of the Bali tourism board.
Visitors who intend to travel beyond Bali must stay on the island for at least three nights before they are permitted to do so.
The new changes in Bali come as other Southeast Asian countries scramble to reopen and reclaim a piece of the region’s hotly contested tourism sector.