The Balinese government is discussing the possibility of opening up the province to international travellers on 11 September, pending approval from the Indonesian President. And Bali’s Governor Wayan Koster has issued a circular on the adoptation of new health protocols so that the opening of the tourism sector will make tourists feel safe and comfortable.
“We will consider it carefully, we see the dynamics,” said Assistant Deputy for Sustainable Tourism Development at the Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs and Investment, Kosmas Hareva, commenting on the possibility of removing Decree Number 11 of 2020, which bans foreign tourists from the country. “If the Task Force says it’s getting better and there is an agreement with several partner countries, then of course it will be removed.”
“The government is ready to make revisions to the decree, but the information must be in accordance with the President’s expectations and his direction. We must not be careless, things must always be considered carefully,” continued Kosmas. “Of course, we are still following the development of Covid-19 in Indonesia, so it could be planned for September, but if the dynamics are not safe, we can’t reopen.”
Elsewhere, following the news that Portugal had launched travel insurance covering tourists’ Covid-19 related medical claims, the country has reported such high numbers of UK tourists that Bónus Seguros (a Portuguese insurance company) has had to draft in a ‘task force’ to deal with the high volume of travel insurance enquiries.
Marco Pyta, Commercial Director of Bónus Seguros, explained that the company was approached by Turismo de Portugal and asked whether it could run the cover for foreign holidaymakers. Upon agreeing, Pyta says that the company was immediately inundated with calls and had to set aside four telephone lines to deal with the increased number of customer enquiries.
“By midday today, I think we had received over 1,000 calls, yesterday there were 800. We had no idea this insurance would be so popular. These last few days have been incredible,” said Mr Pyta. “We have had inquiries from Canada and Brazil, but 90 per cent have come from England. It’s as if everyone there wants to come on holiday to Portugal.”
As UK insurers will no longer cover travel to Portugal, as the country is no longer on the nation’s green list, both Bónus Seguros and Portugal Travel Insurance are offering the cover as part of Visit Portugal’s new initiative, promoted on portugaltravelinsurance.com. Very recently, AXA teamed up with the Canary Islands to pay for tourists’ medical costs, should they contract Covid-19 while travelling, and these collaborative partnerships look to be a way that will help both local economies recover their economic losses, while also providing travellers with peace of mind while travelling during Covid-19.
Will these international travel insurance offerings from local countries discourage travellers from following, and ultimately undermine, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s (FCO) advice? Perhaps, having recently issued contradictive advice on cruises, for example, the FCO is no longer considered to be a reliable and consistent source of information, and so countries are taking matters into their own hands to stimulate their tourism revenues? One thing’s for sure, travellers are responding to the new offerings, in large numbers, so there’s a gap in the market to be filled.