Life Travel Bali is back open for Australian tourists, but a lack of direct flights isn’t the only hurdle

Bali is back open for Australian tourists, but a lack of direct flights isn’t the only hurdle

Bali is reopening for Australian tourists
Bali has reopened to international tourists, and the industry is preparing for Australians to return. Photo: AAP
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Two years after the pandemic decimated international travel, Bali has reopened to all foreign tourists – but aspiring Australian holidaymakers still face a few hurdles.

There are currently no direct flights from Australia, and upon arrival fully vaccinated travellers will have to spend five days at one of the five government-approved quarantine resorts: The Grand Hyatt, the Westin Nusa Dua, the Griya Santrian, the Viceroy and the Royal Tulip Springhill Resort.

Visitors will also need to present a negative PCR test result taken before departure, take another PCR test upon arrival, and take two more PCR tests during quarantine.

Bali travel specialist Nicki Lawson called the situation “a hot mess in terms of travel, rules, realities and expectations”.

Ms Lawson said it’s not uncommon for Australians, and Western Australians in particular, to visit Bali several times in a year. She has been 49 times.

“There is no question that the Bali regulars are dying to get back, but the five-day quarantine is only one obstacle,” Ms Lawson told The New Daily.

“It reduced from 14 days to 10, to seven, and was at five days on its way to one day before Omicron came in and reset the 14 days – now we’re back to five.”

Another barrier is that Australians need to apply for a tourist visa beforehand, rather than receiving a visa on arrival.

A temple in Bali
Bali is open for business, but airlines are taking a cautious approach. Photo: Getty

Restrictions like this have proven to be a barrier for travellers in the past, and that’s especially true for people looking for a quick getaway.

Jetstar first noticed this for other destinations that opened up sooner, like Fiji and Phuket.

The airline is due to resume direct flights to Bali by March 1, and told TND that things could change if authorities further ease restrictions.

“We’re currently reviewing the entry and quarantine requirements for travellers into Bali and will provide an update if there are any changes to our flights, which are currently scheduled to take off from Melbourne and Sydney in early March,” a spokesperson said.

Ms Lawson believes the quarantine requirements will eventually be relaxed, but noted that the pandemic has been unpredictable thus far.

Qantas is eyeing direct flights for March 28 and Singapore Airlines will resume its flights on February 16.

Virgin Australia is waiting to see how prospective tourists respond to the restrictions before deciding when flights will restart.

But this uncertainty and lack of direct flights hasn’t stopped Australians from searching.

Balinese authorities announced the reopening on Tuesday, and by Wednesday, flight search engine Skyscanner experienced a 33 per cent jump in traffic from Australia.

“This is another step in the direction towards travel fully reopening for Australians, and we know that this destination news will unlock a wave of pent-up demand as travellers react to the latest changes,” the company’s Asia-Pacific director Paul Whiteway said.

Bali airport
Indonesian domestic tourists are already returning to Bali. Authorities hope foreigners will join them. Photo: AAP

Even before the announcement, there was plenty of demand from eager Australians.

Bali was one of the most searched for international destinations on Skyscanner in January, alongside London, New Delhi, Manila and Bangkok.

Over on Expedia, travellers made enough hotel bookings for Bali over the Easter break to make it the third most popular international destination among Australians, after Fiji and the Hawaiian main island of Oahu.

Expedia travel expert Lisa Perkovis said April will likely be the busiest time for international travel this year.

Garuda Indonesia, the country’s national airline, resumed weekly flights between Bali and Tokyo on Thursday, the Australian Financial Review reports.

When asked if there will be tourists on board these flights, the airline’s CEO Irfan Setiaputra replied: “In sha’Allah (God willing) there are.”

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