As Indonesia, the world's fourth largest nation by population, faces a daunting Covid-19 surge that has led to thousands of deaths, Australians longing for a holiday on its popular tourist island of Bali are coming under heavy scrutiny.
Sydney-based author Tiffany Tsao, who is of Indonesian descent, took to Twitter this week to hit out at a headline published by The Australian about Indonesia's escalating crisis.
"Indonesia's Covid hell as Australians may have to wait years to go back to Bali," the headline read as Prime Minister Scott Morrison continues to block international travel to protect the nation from the virus.
Tsao described it as the 'worst headline ever" and said it was "insensitive" for Australia to prioritise leisure over the Covid crisis devastating one of its close neighbours.
Worst headline EVER in The Australian 😡 pic.twitter.com/OL4xShub93
— Tiffany Tsao (@TiffTsao) July 15, 2021
Her tweet, which has since been retweeted more than 1,300 times, prompted similarly strong responses from other users.
"Gross. As if our only care in the world was our ability to go get drunk on Bali's beaches while the country goes through a devastating health crisis," one person wrote.
"They want to party when people are dying," another said.
Indonesia reported a record increase of 1,025 deaths from COVID-19 on Friday, bringing the country's total tally of fatalities to more than 71,000.
With the highly-infectious Delta variant rampant across the country, Bali has been subjected to heightened Covid restrictions once more.
An editorial from Coconuts Bali, in response to The Australian headline, suggested Australia selfishly did not care for the welfare of Indonesians.
"Do Australians simply not care about Indonesia beyond their holiday plans in Bali, despite us being their close neighbour? We can’t say we’re surprised," the editorial said.
"Who cares about your delayed holiday plans?"
It said the story "epitomised the way the ignorant among those in the West see Indonesia."
Bali is one of the most popular tourist destinations for Australians, with 1.23 million Australians visiting the island in 2019 prior to the pandemic. The island's economy remains heavily dependent on tourism.
Australian tourists not missed, says expat
One British expat in Bali, who co-runs a local wellness company, told Yahoo News Australia Bali was surviving without Australian tourists prior to the latest lockdown.
He said while certain parts of Kuta were financially struggling without Australians, other parts of the island has seen an influx in British and European travellers.
"It's busy here already... it's not far from max capacity," he said.
"People are dreading it opening up (to Australia)."
He said Australians had still managed to find a way into Bali despite their own nation's tight border controls.
However Cok Ace, vice governor of Bali, told the Sydney Morning Herald last month Australians have been missed "so much" and hoped an agreement could be met for tourists to return before 2022.
Australia closed its international border early in the pandemic and isn't expected to open it until mid-2022 with the nation's botched vaccine rollout significantly delayed.
There has been speculation of a travel bubble between Australia and Bali similar to the one implemented with New Zealand, however it has yet to materialise.
Tsao's tweet prompted some people to call for a permanent ban on Australians arriving in Bali.
Earlier this week four overseas tourists, including two Irish nationals, were ordered to leave Bali for failing to comply with Covid restrictions.
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