Bali bounced back after bombings and natural disasters, but some worry it will not recover from the effects of COVID-19.
Jakarta, Indonesia – Indonesia will suspend its visa-on-arrival policy for a month from Friday to curb the spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus in the archipelago.
The move will effectively shut down the country’s tourism industry, bringing the same economic pain already rippling through Rome, Singapore, Barcelona and other destinations that were once magnets for tourists.
But on the Indonesian resort island of Bali, where more than three-quarters of the economy is linked to tourism, the de-facto border closure could prove catastrophic for the population of 4.2 million people.
“From our research, we know about 80 percent of Bali’s GDP is based on tourism,” said Ross Taylor, president of the Indonesia Institute, a foreign policy think-tank at Melbourne’s Monash University.
Over the last 15 years, young people have moved to tourist areas for jobs, while at the same time, their parents have sold their rice paddies to developers.
“There’s been this huge transition where almost everyone has placed all their eggs in the tourism basket,” Taylor added. “The result of taking that away would be catastrophic.
“In most Western countries, households have some financial buffer. But in Bali, most people earn only a couple of hundreds of dollars a month. They live from day-to-day or month-to-month. If they lose their jobs, they will have nothing to fall back on.”
Hasrat Aceh, one of the thousands of hospitality workers on the island who have already been placed on holidays or unpaid leave, puts it more starkly: “Without tourists, Bali will die.”