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.