Polly received only 45 international tourists in 2021

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Hong Kong / Jakarta (CNN) Locations around the world are facing significant tourism cuts amid the Corona virus outbreak. But few have been hit harder than the Indonesian island of Bali, a long-time favorite of world travelers.

Due to the strict border control measures and the closed airport, Polly welcomed just 45 people in 2021 from receiving millions of international visitors.

Compare that to about 6.2 million international visits in 2019 and 1.05 million in 2020.

“This is the lowest number of foreign tourist arrivals we have ever recorded,” Neoman Kede Gunadika, head of tourism in the province of Bali, told CNN.

This two-digit number is for the period between January and October 2021 and is confirmed by the Bali Central Bureau of Statistics.

The island’s Nura Roy International Airport (DPS) in Denpasar is closed to international flights almost all year round, and all of those tourists come by private boats. Although the airport officially reopened to international flights on October 14, so far there are only domestic flights in and out of the airport from the Indonesian capital, Jakarta.

In order to come to Bali, foreign tourists have to deal with strict Govt related entry requirements. They must obtain a business visa (currently no tourist visas) at a cost of $ 300, take several PCR tests and purchase specialized medical insurance. Also, air fares are higher than usual due to the lack of direct flights.

A hopeful visitor Justina Vrucha, a UK citizen, plans a trip to Bali with her husband. This is their first visit to the island, he says, which has long been on their bucket list.

“We think the government in Indonesia and Bali is very strict by imposing 10 days of isolation on fully vaccinated people,” Wrucha told CNN.

Bali’s Govt policies regarding foreign visitors are determined by the central government in Jakarta, not by local authorities on the island. At first, the isolations were short, but increased recently due to fears of a new Omicron variant.

Vrucha and her husband will arrive in Jakarta on December 26, where they will be isolated for 10 days and then move to Bali to avoid any changes or last-minute problems. He says they rely on social media, primarily Instagram, to stay up to date, rather than official government channels.

“Before Kovit, people from Europe and the UK loved Bali,” he adds.

Ray Suryavijaya agrees with Vrucha, president of the Indonesian Hotels and Restaurants Association of Badung District, Bali.

“With so many restrictions, it is difficult for us to expect foreign tourists to come to Bali,” he said.

However, there is little hope of a gradual recovery of domestic tourism. The occupation rate of hotels in Bali is now around 35%, according to Ray.

“On weekends, about 13,000 domestic tourists come to Bali,” he adds.

While the small drop of visitors is particularly encouraging to end this year, it may not be enough to save the 2021 season, especially for many Polynesian locals who depend on tourism.

Polly beach photo by Pudu Sayoka / Bloomberg via Getty Images.

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