Before COVID travel restrictions Bali was crowded with tourists that congested the Indonesian island’s villages roads, streets, hotels, bars, restaurants and beaches.
Nowadays the tourist destination is barren resulting in suffering for locals with massive job losses and empty venues.
Bali saw 6.3 million tourists visit in all of 2019, but in the first nine months of 2021, the island only saw 43 travellers.
The 43 foreign visitors weren’t tourists, but were travelling on different visas.
Bali saw a substantial boom since the 1990s, with mass tourism transforming the agricultural island into a massive holiday hub, with tourism accounting for 50 per cent of Bali’s economy.
However, the pandemic saw 700,000 workers lose their jobs, become furloughed, leave the labour force or reduce working hours.
Some businesses tried to offset losses by catering to domestic tourists. Hotels offered reduced-price stays for Indonesians wanting to work from the beach, but hotel occupancy was less than 10 per cent in September, according to government statistics.
Bali’s economy dropped 9.3 per cent in 2020, compared to Indonesia’s overall 2 per cent drop, and more than 30,000 people have fallen into poverty.
The arrival of the Omicron variant tempered hopes that Bali could begin to reopen as normal.
Indonesia reopened to tourists from certain countries in mid-October, but required a five-day quarantine after arrival, which was later reduced to three days.
With the new variant, Indonesia is mandating a seven-day quarantine for foreign tourists.
No international flights have arrived in Bali with foreign tourists since the reopening, according to a spokesman for Bali’s international airport.
Bali governor, Wayan Koster, when asked about the Omicron variant said the government is vigilant about the emergence of new variants, and that COVID-19 conditions abroad “will certainly impact the effort to revive tourism”.
Bali isn’t alone in its COVID-related tourism struggles.
In Venice, government data shows the city welcomed around 60 per cent fewer tourists in June and July this year, compared to the same time period in 2019.
New Zealand’s tourism is down 95 per cent with their strict border closures.
Roughly two dozen countries, including Thailand, Fiji, Jamaica and the Philippines, counted on travel for more than 20 per cent of their pre-pandemic annual gross domestic product, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council.
Thailand is currently facing its worst economic downturn in decades, in part due to the lost tourism revenue.
A poll of travel experts by the World Tourism Organization found that 45 per cent didn’t expect international tourism to return to pre-pandemic levels in their country until 2024 or later.
The US Travel Association forecasts that international arrivals to the U.S. won’t recover to 2019 levels until 2025.