Visa free tourists finally allowed to to extend their expired visas without leaving the island after a change of heart from Indonesia’s central government. An estimated 3000 Australians are among those told in early July they had to leave Bali by August 12, after a ruling from Jakarta that an amnesty on expired tourist visas was coming to an end. Since March, tourists using the visa issued for free on arrival had been allowed to stay on beyond the 30-day limit with no penalty as Bali scrambled to respond to the coronavirus. On July 10, tourists were told this waiver would finish on August 12 2020.
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With foreign arrivals largely banned during the pandemic, Bali is now preparing to reopen. The wheels of bureaucracy are creaking back into gear and immigration offices have begun processing applications again. After an outcry following the August 12 deadline, the central government has relented and decided that for the first time, the free visas issued on arrival can be extended without leaving Bali. Putu Winastra from the Association of Indonesian Tours and Travel Agencies in Bali said local businesses welcomed the decision.The foreign tourists who have stayed during the pandemic have moved around the island,” Mr Winastra said.
“Employers here appreciate the fact they are spending money while tourists tell us that, compared to their home country, prices in Bali are very good – especially now, when the tourism industry is giving a lot of promotions,” On Monday, Indonesia reported 1525 new COVID-19 cases, taking the total to 100,303. Some 4838 have died and 58,173 have recovered.The daily increase in Bali was 62, taking the total number to have tested positive to 3219. Of these, 48 have died, 601 are being treated and 2570 have recovered. The vast majority of the cases has been among Indonesian citizens and locally transmitted. Only 22 foreigners have tested positive on the island.
Bali officially opens for domestic tourists on Thursday, though some Indonesians keen for a holiday have already made their way in. Health protocols are in place across the province to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 infections. Medical facilities and testing labs have also been readied and the provincial government is working with traditional village officials to enforce the new regime.Bali has adapted before and it will do so again,” said Deputy Governor Tjokorda Oka Artha Ardana Sukawati.
This is a new situation. We have experienced bombs – twice – and natural disasters including the eruption of Mount Agung. However, this is the first time we are experiencing a pandemic situation.We have communicated a lot with our partners from abroad, including those from Europe, China and Australia. Many have expressed their interest and readiness to travel to Bali, though while we intend to be open from September 11, we understand they may not be ready to travel until October,” Mr Tjokorda said.
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Source : https://www.afr.com/