The Indonesian island of Bali will not be open to foreign tourists again this year due to coronavirus concerns.
Authorities at the popular holiday destination had earlier said foreign visitors would be allowed to return from next month.
However, the plan has been scrapped due to concerns over the Mount Kovid-19 case in Indonesia.
The move has rekindled concerns about the impact on residents in an economy dependent on tourism.
Millions of foreigners fly to the sands every year in search of secluded beaches, paddy fields, and scattered Hindu temples.
Their numbers have plummeted since Indonesia closed its borders to non-residents, fighting epidemics like other countries.
Since the end of July, the island has been attracting local visitors to revive the tourism industry, the heart of the local economy, beaches, temples, and other landmarks.
But as hotels and restaurants continue to fight for survival, many resort workers return to villages and small towns to earn a living.
“The situation in Indonesia is not conducive to allowing international tourists to visit the country, including Bali,” the island’s governor, Wayne Coaster, said in a recent statement.
The statement did not say when Bali would return to foreign tourists, but said Indonesia “will not be open to international tourists until the end of 2020.”
The governor said the reopening would require “prudence” and careful preparation as failure could damage the island’s recovery and reputation.
As of Monday, there were 4,5576 coronavirus infections and 52 deaths in Bali.
Nationwide, Indonesia has more than 155,000 coronavirus infections and at least 7,559 deaths – the highest death toll in Southeast Asia. Experts believe that the number will be higher if more experiments are done.
This decision of the governor of Bali is a great shock to the millions of Balinese, who have been living in the Corona since March.
Tourism contributes about 70% of the economy of the province. Last year more than six million foreigners visited the island.
In a recent vacation near Bali, I first saw the economic downturn. Kadek, a cheerful driver who picked me up from the airport, told me that I was his “first passenger in five months.”
Many shops, bars, restaurants, and hotels are closed, including the popular tourist areas of Seminyak and Kutar, which usually bother Australian, British and European tourists during the summer months, such as August.
Diving shops and yoga studios are also largely closed or empty, as well as fancy resorts along Nusa Dua beach.
The tour guide I Made Subrana told me: “I am very concerned about this. International tourism is not the locomotive of the economy. I have lost my income due to the epidemic. In Bali from May to October is the ‘European season’.
“The coronavirus outbreak and travel restrictions are having a devastating effect on the tourism sector,” said I Putu Gede Budiarta, general manager of a hotel in the Bali capital, Denpasar.
He told the BBC that most of them work in hospitality and most of their travelers come from abroad. It’s affecting their income. So it’s a difficult time for them.
The hotel he works at is less than half full because it tries to attract local travelers. But a separate guesthouse in the countryside has been empty for months.
In March, hundreds of British tourists were reportedly stranded for bookings to return home to Bali, as the UK government called for citizens to return and countries around the world were locked out.
Activities on Facebook groups, which have been encouraged to help travelers exchange flight information, have declined, but tourists are still sharing details, saying it is easier to fly home on a flight via the capital Jakarta.
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