In Photos: Empty Hotels, Empty Beaches in Bali as Tourism Evaporates

Bali's tourism industry has spent decades growing. But COVID-19 has stopped the iconic destination's economic activity cold.

More than 6.3 million visitors flocked to the 70-mile-long, 95-mile-wide Indonesian island in 2019, drawn to its Hindu temples and rich culture, volcanoes and rice terraces, cliffs and sandy beaches on the Indian Ocean. Many come from China, Australia and other countries to the island's more than 1,000 hotels, which, like others in Indonesia, have been temporarily closed by the coronavirus.

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A five-star hotel receptionist staff member wears a faceshield and mask in the lobby in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia on June 22. Agung Parameswara/Zenger

But after the pandemic hit, popular tourism spots like the beaches of Kuta, Seminyak and Nusa Dua and the temples and shrines near Ubud stand nearly empty. In Canggu, a few foreigners still enjoy the waves and sun on the black sand Batubolong Beach, though many were waiting for the airport to reopen so they could go home.

A mere 36 foreign tourists visited Bali in May, according to the most recent statistics available from the Bali Provincial Statistics agency, down 90 percent from the 327 in April—but in April 2019, the island saw 476,160 foreign tourists. On any given day in May, only 2 percent of Bali's hotel rooms were occupied, down from nearly 52 percent in May 2019. There are more than 1,000 hotels on the island.

Bali's empty beaches and resorts aren't unusual. All tourist destinations around the world have seen COVID-19-related travel restrictions, data from the United Nations' World Tourism Organization show.

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A hotel staff member walks near the pool in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia, June 22. Agung Parameswara/Zenger

As much as 80 percent of Bali's economy is linked to tourism. But as the flow of foreigners to Indonesia dropped to near-zero in April, Bali's economy contracted: by 1.14 percent year over year for the first quarter, and by 7.7 percent from the previous quarter, according to data from Bali Provincial Statistics Agency. The island's tourism took hits in 2002 and 2005 because of terrorism-related bombings and again in 2017 after the Mount Agung volcanic eruptions.

The global pandemic has affected nearly 11,000 tourism-related businesses throughout Indonesia, according to the country's Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy. And of the country's estimated 268 million residents, nearly 81,668 have been confirmed to have coronavirus, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, and 3,873 have died.

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An empty international arrival area at Ngurah Rai International Airport, Bali, Indonesia, June 22. Agung Parameswara/Zenger

After the massive effect in tourism caused by COVID-19 pandemic, which many say is worse than the downturn after the 2002 and 2005 Bali bombings and the 2017 Mount Agung volcanic eruptions, it's time to thinking that developing other sectors of the economy, such as agricultural, as a government priority.

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An empty international departure area at Ngurah Rai International Airport, Bali, Indonesia, June 22. Agung Parameswara/Zenger
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An empty international departure area at Ngurah Rai International Airport, Bali, Indonesia, June 22. Agung Parameswara/Zenger
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An empty international arrival area at Ngurah Rai International Airport, Bali, Indonesia, June 22. Agung Parameswara/Zenger
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A man rides motorcycle in front of Ground Zero monument area in Kuta, Bali, Indonesia, June 23. Agung Parameswara/Zenger
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A dog walks on a empty street at Popies Street II in Kuta, Bali, Indonesia, June 23. Agung Parameswara/Zenger
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A view of Legian street and Ground Zero monument area in Kuta, Bali, Indonesia, June 23. Agung Parameswara/Zenger
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A man records a video of the beach in front of a gate at Kuta Beach, Bali, Indonesia, on June 23. Kuta Beach is normally one of the crowded surf spot in Bali​. Due to the pandemic, the beach is closed to tourists.​ Agung Parameswara/Zenger
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A closed souvenir shop at Popies Line II in Kuta, Bali, Indonesia, June 23. Agung Parameswara/Zenger
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Empty Kuta Beach, Bali, Indonesia, June 23. Agung Parameswara/Zenger
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Kuta Beach, Bali, Indonesia, June 23. Agung Parameswara/Zenger
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Kuta Beach, Bali, Indonesia, June 23. Agung Parameswara/Zenger
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An empty hotel near Kuta Beach, Bali, Indonesia, June 23. Agung Parameswara/Zenger
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A man holding a surfboard walks along Batu Bolong beach, Bali, Indonesia, June 23. Agung Parameswara/Zenger
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Tourists at Batu Bolong beach, Bali, Indonesia, June 23. Agung Parameswara/Zenger
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A man sleeps at a surfboard rental at Berawa Beach, Bali, Indonesia on June 23. Agung Parameswara/Zenger
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A view of Berawa Beach, Bali, Indonesia, June 23. Agung Parameswara/Zenger
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A woman wearing a helmet walks in front of a cafe at Batu Bolong Beach, Bali, Indonesia, June 23. Agung Parameswara/Zenger
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A man stands at a cafe at Batu Bolong beach, Bali, Indonesia, June 23. Agung Parameswara/Zenger
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A woman swings and a man walks with his dog at Berawa Beach, Bali, Indonesia, June 23. Agung Parameswara/Zenger
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A tourist exercises at Berawa Beach, Bali Indonesia, June 23. Agung Parameswara/Zenger
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A man wearing a mask walks in front of Ubud royal palace, Bali, Indonesia, June 24. Agung Parameswara/Zenger

This story was provided to Newsweek by Zenger News.

In Photos: Empty Hotels, Empty Beaches in Bali as Tourism Evaporates | Culture