The Effects of COVID-19 in Bali and How the Island Has Recovered Since

“Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much”– Helen Keller

Image by Ruben Hutabarat from Unsplash

Time has flown by so fast, it seems like it was only yesterday when the Indonesian government declared a state of emergency on Bali and resulted in visas on arrival being halted. As a destination that relies heavily on tourism for their economy, one can see why (and how) the pandemic has wreaked havoc on our beloved holiday island.

ICYMI, it’s been two weeks since Bali reopened its doors to domestic travel and less than a month until international tourists are projected to be allowed in once again. Yes, most of us have our own country’s travel ban to abide by (for now) and obviously can’t travel (yet), but it’s nice to just dream about beach holidays in our downtime.

So what has Bali been up to since that dreadful day at the end of March? We had a few local businesses—including our resident Bali representative—share the ups and downs they’ve experienced these past four months.

Let’s rewind and go back to the beginning, shall we?

Nobody Saw This Coming

If you told us a year ago that in 2020, our passports would be rendered useless and that we’d all be making banana bread while working from home because countries around the world have gone into lockdown, we honestly wouldn’t have believed you.

“Worry” would be an understatement when it came to business owners in Bali. Paul, the owner of UP2U Surf School, knew deep down that he would have to shut the doors, even before the government issued an order, “98% of companies in Bali did exactly the same.” When asked about how locals took the news, he recalls that as with all businesses worldwide, people were mostly clueless and that morale was low.

Pàz Návarro, PR Representative of Milk & Madu Cafe relates that it was devastating, “Our number one concern was to be able to continue to provide for our staff. We have more than 300 combined in The Good Food Brotherhood cafe group. For us, that’s 300+ families we care about and need to work hard for.”

When Life Gives You Lemons…

While most companies needed time to regroup and rethink their business strategies, The Practice Yoga knew exactly what they had to do from the get-go. “We got creative, rolled up our sleeves, hustled even harder, learned some new skills and shifted our entire studio online,” shares Co-Founder Octavio Salvado.

As a leader, Andy Grant, COO of Spring Spa, understood the importance of remaining positive and keeping team spirits up, “We’ve used this time for a lot of training and development, bringing in staff to keep them up-skilled, involved and motivated.”

Adhi, our Director of Operations in Bali, also noted that the uncertainty demanded the on-ground team to be much more creative, flexible and hard-working in order to keep up with the fast-changing demands thrown at the accommodation sector during this pandemic.

Did you have to make the painful decision of cancelling an overseas trip? So did most of our villa guests… ?

Hearts Stay Full

As an island that has powered through its fair share of natural disasters, the people of Bali are no strangers to banding together and giving back to those in need. Andy agreed that during a crisis situation, one of the first costs to be trimmed are charities, “Yes, there were ongoing food packages delivered and financial aids given, but ultimately, we wanted to remain committed to keeping our lovely kids at Peduli Anak safe.”

The team at The Practice Yoga, on the other hand, teamed up with Milk & Madu Cafe’s parent company for an initiative called the Good Food Drive. Together, they gave out hundreds of free meals to locals who needed it most. Paul from UP2U even told us that he made sure to donate food and baby products before money started to run out!

For us, we couldn’t have pulled off a successful donation drive without YOU. Back in June, we reached out to our social media followers with a fundraiser goal and within three days, we were able to raise SGD10,183! The amount was then used to distribute two weeks’ worth of food packs to 500 families (as per the images above). Such collective efforts speak volumes about the deep connection and love surrounding the island.

A Way Back to Its Core

One of our main takeaways of how COVID-19 affected Bali was that it allowed the island to return to how it used to be—friendly, warm and kind—a bundle of positive energy.

Though the vibe Bali was once known for has disappeared, the island has never been more beautiful. Locals and expats now have the opportunity to reacquaint themselves with places they would otherwise avoid.

Pàz reassures us that the desire to create an inviting atmosphere is strong amongst locals as they want to remind everyone that Bali is still the same wonderful destination. Andy also pointed out that service levels have improved, hygiene levels and awareness are noticeably better and staff are more conscientious than ever too.

Basically, if you were to teleport yourself to Bali right now, you’ll see that the beaches are quieter, the streets cleaner, traffic has become less congested and communities have grown to become tighter than before. 

Making Way for Change

It’s inevitable, really. Especially now that businesses are picking up where they left off since domestic tourists started rolling in. Vehicles from outside of Bali have been spotted roaming the streets. Restaurants and shops have started opening, although not in its full capacity and with health and safety measures in place.

We don’t want to bore you with the technical details but it’s no secret that every business around the world is adapting to survive. Whether they’re implementing new security protocols (Psst…our villa’s welcome pack now comes with additional masks and hand sanitizers!) or massive organisational changes, it’s clear that life will not necessarily go back to normal any time soon. 

No matter where we are located, we’ll all have to continue adjusting in order to come out stronger. To quote Martin Luther King Jr., “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” So this is our love letter to you, Bali. We know you’ll bounce back like you always do.

Main image by Artem Beliaikin from Unsplash.

Hey Bali, you’ve got this!

Tammy Chan

Nothing makes this Sagittarius happier than an ice cold glass of coke, bingeing on Law & Order and scrolling Reddit at 2am. She might be an introvert, but she'll go on for hours if you start a convo about the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Despite being a picky eater, Tammy believes that food hunting is the best part of travelling.

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