by Hayati Nupus
JAKARTA, Oct. 12 (Xinhua) -- The Indonesian resort island of Bali is waiting in excitement for international tourists as it will reopen on Thursday.
As many as 8,000 rooms in 35 three- to five-star hotels are ready to be occupied both for quarantine and accommodation when international tourists are on the island, the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association's Chairperson Hariyadi Sukamdani said.
"We have been preparing this for 19 months with caution. We are ready to welcome international guests," Sukamdani told Xinhua on Monday.
Sukamdani estimated that in the early phase only about 2,000 rooms would be used, but the number would increase if more visitors come.
The tourism in Bali is reviving in recent weeks as more and more domestic tourists are coming with the hotel occupancy rate increased by 35 percent, Sukamdani said.
The development came as Indonesia's daily new COVID-19 cases dropped sharply in recent days.
With the relaxation of public mobility restrictions, shopping centers, cinemas and restaurants are allowed to reopen. The government has also sped up the vaccination program.
Deputy Governor of Bali Tjokorda Oka Sukawati said that thousands of attractive tourist facilities, including restaurants, hotels and malls in the resort island are ready to welcome foreign tourists under strict health protocols.
Meanwhile, 99 percent of the Balinese have received their first doses of COVID-19 vaccines and 80 percent have got the second doses.
Sukawati hoped that reopening the island would revive the tourism sector which in 2019 generated 53 percent of the province's revenues.
Coordinating Minister for Maritime and Investment Affairs Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan said that foreigners who come from countries with a COVID-19 positivity rate of less than 5 percent and those who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are allowed to come to Bali.
As long as their tests are negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours before their departures and have proofs of accommodation bookings, the tourists are allowed to visit Indonesia.
"They must also have health insurance with a minimum coverage value of 100,000 U.S. dollars, which includes financing for handling COVID-19," Pandjaitan explained.
They only need to follow a five-day quarantine, a duration that has been cut from the previous eight days, before exploring the beauty of the island, Pandjaitan said.
"If results of PCR tests on the 4th day are negative, they are allowed to leave the quarantine on the 5th day."
Upon arriving at Bali's I Gusti Ngurah Rai Airport, every visitor are required to take a physical examination and a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, among others. The airport has prepared PCR test booths with a capacity of 3,840 tests per day.