Fears over Bali's new 'green zone' tourism plan

Tourists may soon be welcomed back to Bali under a new "green zone" plan, but not only will the popular holiday hotspot remain off limits for Aussies, experts also believe the new scheme is flawed.

Earlier this month Bali Governor Wayan Koster said the plan was being considered to revitalise its tourism sector after it was hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

“[The Bali administration] along with the Health Ministry are formulating green zones, and these green zones are places where both domestic and foreign tourists will be allowed to visit,” Mr Koster said in an online Youtube broadcast earlier this month.

"In Bali Province, the tourism sector is one of the targets that we will accelerate in vaccination."

 A number of residents are in front of a closed bar in Kuta Bali.
Kuta is a ghost town after its tourism sector was hit hard by the pandemic. Source: Getty

According to news outlet Coconuts Indonesia, Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Sandiaga Uno also said that popular tourist destinations like Ubud, Kuta, Nusa Dua and Nusa Penuda could be considered "green zones" as there is a low risk of Covid-19 transmission.

The new plan would see Bali welcome international travellers to these places, however Australia would have to lift its own ban on outbound international travel before Aussies can flock back to the tourist paradise.

Epidemiologist says Bali plan is flawed

Indonesia is vaccinating 50,000 people against the virus every day but its infections and deaths are rising faster than ever, as experts fear its tally of more than a million cases and 31,000 deaths underestimates the actual figure.

Griffith University epidemiologist Dicky Budiman told Coconuts Indonesia he had concerns the "green zone" plan was not feasible due to the country's handling of the pandemic.

"We have to be very aware that the situation in Bali is not under control [in regards] to the pandemic, that's very clear," he said.

Closed beach bar and surf rent during local restriction amid COVID-19 in Kuta.
Bali is a shadow of its former self as a beach in Kuta is deserted of tourists. Source: Getty

Dr Budiman added Bali needed to establish robust systems to ensure the "green zone" plan is a safe one, including an improved Covid screening of people entering to the country.

He said Bali also needed to ensure it could hold Covid-19 patients in hospitals in the event of an outbreak.

Idyllic tourist hotspot unrecognisable

Bali is now a shadow of its former self with the once bustling markets and idyllic beaches completely deserted.

Photos taken late last year in Kuta, where nightlife was once booming and millions of Aussies flocked to each year, now show a ghost town with shops and market vendors boarded up and streets abandoned.

In a video shared on Facebook by Jack Ahearn, who moved to Bali more than four years ago, algae is seen cumulating in ponds while debris rests on the floors of neglected buildings.

“It’s a long, long, long way away for places like Kuta to recover," he said.

According to Statista, the number of tourists to Bali as of June last year was just 880,000.

It was barely a fraction of the number of tourists in 2019, with Statista reporting more than six million visitors in both 2018 and 2019.

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