As Indonesia’s ban on international tourist arrivals remains in place until at least the end of the year, Bali’s provincial government is attempting to boost its domestic sector and revive the local economy through a campaign titled We Love Bali.
Funded by the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy to the tune of 20 billion rupiah (US$1.34 million), up to 4,400 participants aged between 18 and 50 will join the two-month programme, which begins this month. "This activity is important so tourism in Bali will be revived," head of Bali Tourism Office, Putu Astawa, told Bisnis.
Participants will be made up of tour operators, travel writers, photographers, lecturers, students, civil servants, travel enthusiasts and social media influencers. All participants are expected to share their trips on social media and have at least 2,000 followers.
Each group will comprise 40 participants travelling in two buses, and a non-reactive rapid test conducted no more than three days prior to departure must be shown by each participant.
Twelve different three-day, two-night travel routes have been scheduled, with each taking in five to six destinations. Popular areas such as Nusa Dua, Kuta, Seminyak, Sanur and Ubud will be on some itineraries, along with lesser-known regions such as Trunyan, Plaga, Kerambitan, Lovina and Menjangan. Local micro, small and medium enterprises will be invited to sell souvenirs to participants at each stop.
Along with providing a much needed boost to the local economy—which is Indonesia’s hardest hit by the pandemic—a major motive for the programme is evaluating compliance with cleanliness, health, safety and environment protocols across the destinations and participating accommodation providers. Over 50 hotels, resorts, guesthouses and homestays, including Bajul Eco Lodge by Plataran in West Bali National Park, will host participants.
“As well as accommodation, Bajul Eco Lodge provides environmental education and research facilities, and conducts rare wildlife conservation, endemic tree planting and coral restoration. By promoting these activities, we believe the We Love Bali campaign will not only support tourism in West Bali National Park, but also educate the public about the importance of environmental preservation,” explains Kay Tadjoedin, corporate marketing manager of Plataran Indonesia.
As Bali’s caseload continues to climb and its hospitals edge closer to capacity, the programme has received criticism from some local media. “We can’t help but wonder if promoting tourism with Bali reporting a significant surge in coronavirus cases since the start of this month is the best course of action,” states Coconuts Bali.
Bali Tourism Office is confident, however, that the programme will "help blow up that Bali is ready to implement health protocols", says Astawa.