Bali’s future is in dire straits, with shocking pictures revealing the once global holiday hotspot now resembles a virtual ghost town two years into the pandemic.
With Indonesia heavily reliant on tourism, a continual spike in Covid-19 case numbers and a subsequent lack of overseas guests has plunged the province famed for Kuta Beach and endless bars, restaurants and shops into a shadow of its former self.
A YouTube video – uploaded on January 23 – titled Poppies Lane Kuta Bali Situation 2022 / Bali Condition Now, provides a confronting, behind the scenes insight into how bleak life has become for many locals.
Usually bustling side streets on the once iconic Poppies Lane I and II now feature scores of closed stores, with the video narrator stating it is a ‘really sad situation’ and that desperate Balinese workers ‘hope to see tourists back soon.’
In further depressing scenes, the four-star Grand Barong Resort, which was consistently booked out before the pandemic and is walking distance from Kuta Beach, now features endless vacant rooms and no guests from abroad.
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Bali’s future appears grim, with shocking pictures revealing the once global holiday hotspot now resembles a virtual ghost town two years into the pandemic
Usually bustling streets (pictured) are now virtually deserted, as the coronavirus continues to cripple Bali’s tourism industry
A You Tube video uploaded on January 23 provides a confronting, behind the scenes insight into how bleak life has become for many locals (pictured, a deserted Kuta Beach)
Tourists are nowhere to be seen in some parts due to travel restrictions globally (pictured, a deserted laneway near Kuta Beach)
Despite the current grim scenes, Australia is finally poised to re-commence flights to Bali direct from Melbourne on February 14.
Further flights from Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide will then depart to Denpasar in early March from carriers Qantas and Jetstar.
‘We cannot wait to welcome Aussies back to Bali,’ said Uday Rao, General Manager of Four Seasons Resorts Bali.
‘Aussies have always been the first to return and the last to leave.’
The tourism development from Australian shores will be welcome news given the pandemic has crippled Indonesia, with at least 4.29 million reported Covid cases and 144,000 deaths.
The figures are actually tipped to be much higher, with many positive cases and deaths not recorded.
Up to September last year, less than 50 guests from abroad visited Bali – compared to 6.3 million in the same period of 2019.
Once straining under the weight of ‘overtourism’, the island’s villages are now deserted and countless local businesses are struggling to stay afloat with the prospect international travel might not rebound for years.
In the past decade Bali was one of the top tourist destinations in the world, not just for Australians but also for Europeans, North and South Americans.
Scooter hire businesses, pubs and eateries sprouted up along the tourist strips as more and more locals began relying on foreign business to make a buck.
More than 75,000 hotel rooms were also constructed along its beaches to cope with demand as visitor numbers to Bali grew to record levels in 2019.
The same year, TripAdvisor rated the island the top destination in Asia and fourth in the world.
Figures released from Bali’s tourism board show between 2000 and 2019 foreign visitors quadrupled to be 6.3 million in just nine months – outnumbering the local population of four million.
But the arrival of coronavirus in early 2020 abruptly cut off international travel.
The island eventually opened up to tourists again in mid-October last year, but required travellers to quarantine at their own expense for five days, which was later dropped to three days.
Previously Kuta was a 24 hour party destination beloved by generations of Australians who flocked there for holidays
Kuta, the legendary party capital of beer-swilling Australians, is now a ghost town. Its bars and clubs, like the one pictured here, are shuttered and silent while falling into disrepair
The once vibrant, bustling streets of Bali now lie empty and abandoned as Covid lockdowns decimate the former holiday hotspot. Laneways like the one pictured here are normally packed with fun-seeking holidaymakers but are now empty
In the first nine months of 2021 before the border was opened, just 43 foreign visitors arrived on the island – all in September and none were on tourists visas, a Bali airport spokesperson told The Wall Street Journal.
When Bali and other countries such as Australia and the US finally began easing border rules, the emergence of new Covid variant Omicron then plunged the province into more chaotic times.
Experts have forecast new variants of the virus could be an ongoing issue for years.
The Indonesian Government said tourism accounted for more than 50 per cent of the Balinese economy and 700,000 workers have been stood down from their jobs since the Covid pandemic began.
Bali has since attempted to diversify their economy into other areas such as fishing and manufacturing.
Bali Governor Wayan Koster released a recent manifesto in which he called for the island to become less dependent on tourism moving forward.
‘The development of tourism was pushed in an incorrect direction and didn’t benefit other sectors,’ he said.
Australian regulars to Bali fear the island may never recover from the terrible effects Covid has had on the tourism industry
Stores in Kuta (pictured) once bustling with foreign tourists snapping up cheap clothes and souvenirs now sit empty
Bali was closed to international travellers in April 2020, abruptly cutting off the tourism industry on which locals had come to rely on (pictured: a deserted Bali beach in October 2021)