Vincent Fabian Thomas (The Jakarta Post) Jakarta ● Fri, October 1 2021
A foreigner shows his vaccination card after receiving the second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in Sanur, Denpasar, Bali on June 22, 2021. Around 500 foreigners have received their second shot of COVID-19 vaccines in the city as part of the government’s attempt to curb coronavirus transmission.(Antara/Nyoman Hendra Wibowo)
Canberra remains unkeen on Australians traveling to Indonesia, particularly to the popular holiday destination of Bali Island, despite the significant drop in new daily COVID-19 cases over the past few weeks and the recent loosening of activity restrictions.
Australian Trade, Tourism and Investment Minister Daniel Thomas Tehan told reporters on Wednesday that the country wanted to get the majority of its citizens inoculated first. The minister made the same point when asked about plans for a travel bubble between the two countries.
According to the Our World in Data website, only 42 percent of Australians have been fully vaccinated as of Tuesday, just over half the Australian government’s target.
“What I said to Minister Lutfi was that we will stay very closely in touch as we develop and implement our plan. Obviously, we have to hit that 80 percent national vaccination rate. States and territories [in Australia] also have to hit that 80 percent national vaccination rate,” Tehan said at a press conference held at the Indonesian Trade Ministry.
Tourism businesses in Indonesia are desperately waiting to welcome Australians and other foreigners again. Australia ranked first among the countries of origin of foreign tourists visiting Bali in 2019, when 1.23 million Australians visited the island, ahead of the 1.19 million Chinese, according to Statistics Indonesia (BPS).
BPS data further show that Australia accounted for the fourth-largest number of foreign visitors to Indonesia overall in 2019, after Malaysia, China and Singapore. The 1.38 million Australians made up almost 9 percent of total visits.
However, Indonesia’s tourism industry may have to wait a long time for visitors from Australia, as Tehan also mentioned an even higher vaccination rate as a prerequisite for Australia opening its borders.
“As it hits 90 percent [national vaccination rate], we will open our outbound border and also our inbound border,” Tehan said.
The high vaccination target applied to travel in both directions, Tehan said, adding that Australia was also hoping to soon welcome tourist and international students from Indonesia again.