We’ve been waiting to return to the Island of Gods for some time now. And though much fuss was made the other week when Qantas revealed its overseas 2021 travel plan, many countries were missing from the coveted list.
Though it was revealed Qantas has scheduled flights to the UK, US, Canada, and Singapore from the 18th of December and Japan and Fiji from the 19th of December (pending the government actually opening our borders), no dates were given for Indonesia.
It was reported earlier this month that flights to riskier destinations with low levels of vaccination (think: Bali, Phuket, Bangkok, Manila, Ho Chi Minh City and Johannesburg) would take a little longer to be on the agenda (think: more like April 2022).
However, over the weekend there was a flurry of news regarding Bali.
The Indonesian government flagged plans to open Bali (the holiday isle 1.23million Australians visited in 2019) as soon as October, with the ABC reporting “foreigners are expected to be allowed back in from November once 70 per cent of the local population has been vaccinated.”
But how much would that really change things for Australians? The short answer is: not much at all. Mainly because, as has happened throughout much of the pandemic, no matter what offer another country might throw at Australian tourists, until our federal government lifts our blanket travel ban we can’t go anywhere.
So, in that sense, it’s irrelevant.
On the other hand, the fact that Indonesia’s COVID-19 situation appears to be improving is – as well as being good news in itself – a positive sign for Australians hoping to visit Bali sooner rather than later.
However: though The Indonesian government is considering reopening Bali to countries with a low spread of Covid-19 (including Japan, Singapore and New Zealand) as part of its October 2021 plan, and though Australia could easily be added to this when we hit 80% fully vaccinated – something that should happen in November 2021 – the reality is that if UK travel from Australia isn’t (at this stage) set to start until December the 18th, then it would be a miracle if Bali travel (for Australians) started in November.
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The upshot? Claims in the media that travel to Bali “could be a reality for Australians within months” may be technically true – but are a little bit misleading. Don’t break out the Bintang just yet. By the same token, the quicker Bali bounces back from the pandemic, the quicker Australians are likely to be able to visit again (whenever that may be).
Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister for Maritime and Investment Affairs Luhut Pandjaitan has said the addition of confirmed cases of COVID-19 had dropped by 94.5 per cent since a peak in mid-July, 7news.com.au reports.
Luhut also told a news conference that Indonesia’s hospital bed occupancy rate had fallen below 15%, while the proportion of people tested who are positive was at less than 5%.
Looking to the future, Australia’s prime minister Scott Morrison has said vaccine passports will be key to rejoining the world when our borders do finally open.
Qantas has said it will require Australians travelling overseas to be fully vaccinated to board its flights.