Jessica Gordon is happy she could holiday in Bali last week.
“Bali is like a second home to me,” said the 32-year-old interior designer from Brisbane.
Ms Gordon arrived in the tourist hotspot via Singapore from Australia last Sunday, after she discovered she could visit Indonesia without having to quarantine.
“I’m actually going to visit my grandmother who is unwell in Surabaya, but could only enter through Bali because it is the only airport that offered visa on arrival,” she said.
Ms Gordon last visited Bali in 2019 but before the pandemic, she went to the island almost every year.
She said she was not worried about the current COVID-19 situation in Indonesia.
“I love Bali and want to support the beautiful people here,” she said.
Indonesia initially opened Bali to international tourists, including Australians, in early February, but with a requirement to spend five days in hotel quarantine.
But from early March, Bali implemented the Visa on Arrival program for Australians and tourists from 22 other countries.
Once the visa is granted at Bali airport, international travellers need to self-isolate until they receive a negative PCR test result, but then can continue their holiday.
For further Australian government advice check the Smart Traveller website.
Local media in Indonesia reported that if the Bali trial was successful, Indonesian authorities would open the rest of the country to international arrivals in April.
Djefi Wirjadinata, who was born in Indonesia and is now an Australian citizen, has booked a holiday package to Bali and Jakarta with several of her friends.
“Our flight has been booked, leaving Sydney on April 8,” she said.
“At the moment nine of us will go to Bali and spend several days there, and [then] continue our journey to Jakarta.”
Ms Wirjadinata, who owns a freight business in Australia, said she was really looking forward to the trip — a mix of holiday time and business meetings.
She is trying to stay positive and not worry that the trip might be cancelled because of COVID.
“I think the government will not change their promise,” she said, referring to the Visa on Arrival program.
Daily COVID-19 cases in Indonesia have been decreasing over the past few weeks, according to World Health Organization data.
Despite the drop in cases, on March 17 Indonesia still recorded 13,018 new cases and 230 COVID-related deaths.
But Bali has one of the highest vaccination rates in the country.
In the main tourist areas of Bali, 100 per cent of the local population has had two doses of vaccine.
Local business cautiously optimistic
Nyoman Santiawan, a member of Bali Tourism Board and a local businessman, hopes international tourists will kick start the local economy.
But he said the number of tourists might not pick up until April or May.
“We are happy, but this is early days. So far only four flights have arrived direct from Australia,” Mr Santiawan said.
Bali’s economy relies heavily on tourism.
Prior to the pandemic, up to 70 per cent of the Balinese population earned a living, either directly or in directly, from tourism.
Direct flights between Bali from Sydney and Melbourne resumed in early March, and flights from Perth are set to restart in April.
Mr Santiawan said until Perth flights resume, revenue from Australian tourists will be limited.
“For some Perth residents, Bali is like a second home for them,” he said.
Mr Santiawan also pointed out that travellers from Melbourne and Sydney sometimes preferred other holiday destinations in South-East Asia, like Thailand and Vietnam.
Vietnam announced last week it had scrapped quarantine and other travel restrictions for foreign travellers.
According to the Vietnamese Health Ministry, visitors entering the country only need to show a negative PCR test prior to arrival.
Malaysia will now also allow fully vaccinated travellers into the country, without quarantine, from April 1.
Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said that “citizens with valid travel documents can enter and leave the country as they did before the pandemic,” local media reported on Tuesday.
Thailand has been open to fully vaccinated international tourists from 60 countries since early November 2021, with no hotel quarantine requirement.
Travellers only need to spend their first night in a pre-approved hotel and provide a negative PCR test result.
While Thailand’s program was suspended in December when cases increased because of the Omicron variant, the Associated Press reported the “Test and Go” quarantine waiver for vaccinated arrivals resumed from February 1.
Fully vaccinated Australian travellers have also been allowed to travel to Singapore without needing to quarantine since November 8.