Over 460,000 passengers passed through Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport in October, an increase of 98% compared to September, announced PT Angkasa Pura I, the airport management firm.
Travelers from 19 countries have been able to enter Indonesia for leisure purposes from October 14. The provinces of Bali and the Riau Islands — two of the country’s hotspot destinations — have been the first to allow international visitors back in.
According to PT Angkasa Pura I’s CEO Herry A Y Sikado, the majority of passengers arrived from Jakarta, with over 136,000 travelers, followed by Surabaya and South Sulawesi, with roughly 29,000 and 16,000 passengers, respectively.
He also revealed that in September Ngurah Rai only saw some 234,000 passengers, meaning that October hit a new record high in tourist arrivals in 2021.
It was not easy. Businesses, local residents, and the media had to put a lot of pressure for this to happen.
Locals took to social media to urge the government to remove the PCR test requirement for domestic flights, which costs five times as much as the antigen test. Also, the initial 7-day quarantine discouraged travelers to visit Bali.
The island’s economy heavily relies on tourism, and the prolonged shutdown has resulted in many people losing their jobs and hotels and restaurants closing.
Thankfully, the government took notice. It brought down the cost of tests, cut the quarantine period to only three days, and tourism had an immediate positive response.
Indonesia, like the rest of Asia, is keen to revive its badly damaged tourism sector now that the coronavirus levels have dramatically dropped since July when Indonesia was Asia’s COVID-19 epicenter.
As part of its recovery strategy, Indonesia and Malaysia agreed on Wednesday to launch a Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL).
It would initially serve routes from “Kuala Lumpur-Jakarta-Kuala Lumpur and Kuala Lumpur-Bali-Kuala Lumpur” starting early next year.
This VTL could be the first agreement that would actually bring an important number of foreign tourists to the island. Qantas, Virgin Australia, and Jetstar have also scheduled flights to Bali for March 2022.