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Tourist boats parked under Bali's empty April skies, taken by Joshuahn Jackstonburg.

Bali tourism industry sees most dramatic economic free fall in over 50 years

As the world faces a spiraling daily commercial downturn that is faster and deeper than any since World War 2, the singular entity of Bali – Earth’s most photographed island – has felt it more than anywhere.

By Joshuahn Jackstonburg
Due to the almost total reliance on business via foreign visitors from the entire planet, the Island of the Gods saw in a matter of days a drop in tourism of over 50%; as of late January and early February. Then over the following few weeks it all free fell to virtually 99% fewer tourist numbers and 100% less in tourism activity, with nothing touristic being currently open at all.

Apart from a tiny figure of overseas guests remaining on their gratuitous emergency extended visas, the only other non-Balinese folks you might fleetingly see are veritable ex-patriots. People from other parts of Indonesia who didn’t want to leave the relative safety, resourcefulness and ease of Bali are also stayed behind.

Economically Bali is suffering but it still has its self-sufficiency for the essentials of life and a multi-talented community strength to bide this frugal time. Will Bali’s and the world’s tourism industry ever recover? That depends on all of us now over the next few months or even for the rest of this year, as we are already aware.

Only 4 COVID-19 deaths (the first 2 of which were travelers who brought it with them on holidays) have occurred to date on an island of just under 5 million people. This is in part due to the understanding cooperation of the foreseeing populace in Bali as well as January’s and February’s exodus and a little dash of luck, maybe sunshiny luck!

If, as has been suggested numerous times, the predatory Coronavirus is suppressed or even destroyed by hot atmospheric humidity then that could be some of the reason why Bali, which has now finally come out of its sweltering annual rainy season, seems to have dodged a viral bomb, although nobody can say if this is truly the case exactly.

The new Udayana Hospital in South Kuta (Jimbaran) that has since been set aside just for Coronavirus is not that busy and the sound of ambulance sirens is in fact rarer due to less road and work accidents while everybody is on partial stay-at-home directives and the whole island is now properly in full lockdown mode until this June (for now).

Despite around two hundred local transmissions since the first death in early March – that were easily contained and dealt with recovery-wise – how there were never more frequent and serious outbreak clusters occurring is nearly a miracle. Perhaps because citizens and denizens alike enjoy the outdoors and do not overuse virus-spreading air conditioning helps, as does the fact that elders are looked after by their younger family generations (there are no old-aged care centers).

The medical services and personnel seem to have done a commanding job alongside Indonesia’s Government, local authorities and the communities throughout. Gorgeous colorful Bali with all its in-depth age-old customs and warm welcoming society has suffered similarly before from less globally traumatic situations such as volcanic eruptions and terrorist bombings to executions of drug traffickers, and even SARS and Bird Flu which had their negative financial effects on Bali’s tourism boom in the past twenty years, but nothing like this.

By far, wide and deep, Coronavirus has proven to be the worst dramatic loss in the tourist trade ever seen in Bali, and beloved Bali is undoubtedly indicative for the world at large in this measurable regard.

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13 comments

  1. Great article on a really sad situation for everyone who is employed or in some way connected to the tourist industry, and yes Bali will rebound to again be the most popular Island destination in Indonesia very soon.

  2. Well aid bruv

  3. As a foreigner, living and working in the tourism sector, here in
    Bali, I am impressed by the adherence to the lockdown regulations, by the local Balinese and Indonesians in general.

    Masks, sanitizers, cleaning products and abundantly stocked food shelves, unselfishly available for everyone in need.

    Despite the unparalleled poverty, exasperated by the closure of small Bussiness, bars, restaurants, local markets, hotels,
    and their meager wages have now dried up, the hungry and weak, have an incredible resilience.

    Somehow, the locals and expats who reside here, have
    managed to keep Bali virtually CV19 away from our door.
    The normally congested roads, pounded daily by the many motor bikes, Grab/Gojek riders, tourist taxis, etc. are empty of traffic, which is the biggest challenge of living in Bali.

    Everyone is staying home, in general all essential workers are wearing masks and keeping the statutory distance. Everyone wants to open up Bali again and the sooner the better.

    In the meantime, we who are more fortunate, keep the hungry fed and the weak alive, with care and generosity and a way of giving back to the community who serve us and those who visit their beautiful Island.

    Somehow, I prefer the challenge of the dense traffics than the empty ghost town roads, devoid of the real mad crazy life of of Bali . Bring it all back and I will never complain again if
    some impatient motorbike rider toots his horn or overtakes my car on the wrong side of the road. That is Bali life and not the silent dreary emptiness we are living through today.

    The sun is shining, the surf is up, the pristine white beaches are waiting to welcome the world to enjoy once again.

    Please come back and take some more. Those who have never been, don’t leave this planet without visiting the most
    beautiful Island in South East Asia.

    • Hope it all gets better soon – for everyone. I believe locals ingest papaya leaf to kill anything from dengue to bad flu viruses. Perhaps this helps keep the death rate so low in Bali.

  4. Bali will come back stronger the culture is always strong

  5. Bali has been lucky and strong again. Hope the whole world gets better soon. Maybe America can learn to listen now so we can all defeat the virus quickly.

  6. Another small outbreak – this time in Abuan hamlet near Bangli. Hope Bali’s CV task force can contain and deal with it as well as before.

  7. Eky Anthony, I Wayan

    Now in Bali we are struggling and try to survive, because almost 80% people are working in tourism line. Especially in Southern of Bali. But I believe that tourism in Bali will be rise up moreover than before, after recovery.

  8. Bali is strong and will become even stronger. And of course it will be more beautifull. I hope things get better soon

  9. Ni Nyoman sekarsih

    This cases is all over the world, but. We are believe it will be over soon, Bali still the best destination ci yao bali

  10. Naveen khurana

    I have friends and family stuck in other parts of the world and they all really envy me for being stuck here in bali. The situation is well under control here. Things will start to get better for sure soon. Bali will soon rise out of this weird pandemic situation a much stronger tourist destination for sure.

  11. Great article. Bali and her people will rebound from this disaster, as she has in the past.
    Her people will once again be able to share their love and beauty to us, visitors, to her majestic shores.
    One of my greater concerns is what will happen to the Australian aviation sector. The possibility that the budget carriers won’t be able to get back in the air will prevent many from being able to afford to travel to visit friends in Bali the future.
    Thanks Josh.

  12. Christina Wong

    Bali has been through different disasters, economic situations and bounced back well. I’m sure this time again too. Its reputation will always draw tourists to its door.

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