Dark cloud about to lift from the island of the Gods.
Empty streets. Shuttered stores. Families ruined. Bali in 2020 ain’t an island filled with optimism.
A twelve-billion dollar a year tourist industry, sixty-percent of its GDP, evaporated. What terrorist bombings and hundreds of dead tourists couldn’t achieve almost twenty years ago, a mysterious virus has.
In September, eighty-three…yeah, eighty-three, tourists got into Bali, a 99.986% drop from the previous year.
Come for a little stroll down Jalan Legian, the main drag that runs north-south from Kuta to Seminyak. Gone are the machine-gun staccato of scooters, the quack of a thousand klaxons, the throaty gargle of tourists retching into Hindu offerings.
Fifteen bucks gets you a hotel room, fifty cents dinner.
Charity groups put the unemployment rate at eighty percent, a little different to the Indonesian government’s seven-and-a-half.
Babies fed water instead of formula, families relying on not-for-profit groups to survive.
Originally, Bali had planned to open the island to foreign tourists on September 11 but was revised when COVID lit up, again, worldwide.
But, now, after an inspection by a delegation from the United Nations World Tourism Organization, the island may open to foreign tourists as early as January.
UN WTO Asia and Pacific director Harry Hwang said the island was ready to re-open, safety protocols ready and “excellent, if not the best there are,” he told the Jakarta Post.