Bali is open to quarantine-free travel, but the rules raise eyebrows

Bali is open to quarantine-free travel, but the rules raise eyebrows

The good news first, or the bad news? Ok, the good news is that Bali is reopening quarantine-free travel sooner than expected. It’s official, it’s happening.

The bad news, at least for some, is that reopening Bali isn’t as free and easy as many other recent reopening plans, which have removed testing requirements for fully vaccinated visitors. Bali will instead require pre-flight and post-flight testing.

With Bali officially reopening on March 7 to visitors from 23 countries, including the US, UK, Australia and most of Europe, here’s what you can expect.

Bali opens quarantine-free travel

If you are fully vaccinated and want to take a covid-19 test before traveling, Bali is now officially open with visa on arrival for visitors from 23 countries. The truly stunning island has moved its March 14 reopening by a week – and airlines are starting to restart service.

The 23 countries eligible for a visa on arrival in Bali are: Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, South Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines , Qatar, Singapore, Thailand, Turkey, United States of America, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and Vietnam.

Unlike other destinations that are rapidly reopening travel, such as Oman and the Maldives, Bali will still require pre-travel testing. This is not so bad in itself, but the island will also require a test after arrival, which creates more risk.

If someone were to test positive upon arrival, via the test carried out by the Balinese and Indonesian health authorities, there is a risk of ending up in hospital or a quarantine hotel. Anecdotal reports of conditions in these places have not been overwhelmingly positive.

The silver lining is that officials commit to retesting visitors who test positive after 3 days; and once a negative test result is obtained, they would theoretically be released to enjoy their vacation. It’s not really a silver lining, but it’s something compared to the 14+ days of mandatory isolation elsewhere, such as Hong Kong.

The entry rules don’t end there, unfortunately. All tourists from the 23 eligible countries will also need to obtain health coverage that includes covid-19 infections for the duration of their visit, prior to entry. For nationals of these 23 countries, visas on arrival will be issued.

A missed tourist opportunity, again?

Islands have more difficulty coping with health crises than mainland regions. Fewer intensive care beds and limited access to hospitals call for increased caution when reopening the travel floodgates.

But with hefty entry requirements, Bali is once again in danger of missing out on the rebound wave in tourism, even among surfers. Bali’s latest attempt to reopen travel has been so disappointing that airlines are refusing to schedule flights, due to lack of demand.

As the world reopens, Bali is in a difficult position to balance local health, but also the vital need for the economic benefits that tourism brings. Unless the rules are relaxed, many will go elsewhere. For the moment, they are largely.

Bali is open to quarantine-free travel for fully vaccinated visitors from 23 countries, and that’s great news. Just maybe not as great as it could be.