Bali tourism continues to recover despite foot and mouth disease re-emergence
JAKARTA: The Indonesian popular resort island of Bali continued to revive its tourism sector from Covid-19 pandemic despite the ongoing foot and mouth disease (FMD) re-emergence in the Southeast Asian country.
International tourists have started returning to Bali since February after a hiatus of more than two years due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Indonesian government has recently expressed its optimism about an overall target of 3.6 million foreign visitors in the archipelago this year, although the country is still grappling with the FMD, which re-emerged in April.
The FMD, which causes extreme lameness and death in all cloven-hoof animals such as cattle, sheep, and goats, has disrupted the country's livestock industry.
The disease has spread across 24 provinces with more than 500,000 livestock animals infected and more than 6,000 animals killed, according to the country's National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB).
Indonesia's neighbouring countries, including Australia and New Zealand, were concerned and had imposed travel advisories on their citizens since the FMD can spread by mechanical transfer via fomites, apart from by direct contact with animals, animal products, as well as by airborne route.
However, the warnings did not prevent holidaymakers from those countries from visiting Bali, one of the world's best travel destinations.
In a recent interview with Xinhua, Bali Tourism Agency Head Tjokorda Bagus Pemayun said that the current average number of foreign tourists arriving on the island per day was 9,000 and that figure included tourists flying from Australia and New Zealand.
Pemayun said that the Bali administration has taken stern measures and established a special task force to contain the spread of the FMD in the region.
"In every port, authorities are implementing biosecurity measures. They also temporarily close all local markets that sell particularly cloven-hoofed animals," he said.
Data obtained from the BNPB showed that Bali has not recorded newly confirmed FMD cases since early August. Local media reported that more than 500 cattle infected with the disease have been slaughtered by authorities with compensation given to livestock farmers.
The agency also reported that the estimated population of livestock on the island totaled about 990,000 and more than 57,000 had now been vaccinated against the FMD.
Pemayun said that Bali authorities continued to accelerate the vaccination program on livestock animals and carried out lockdown measures since the disease has severe consequences on animal health and trade.
The management of Bali's Ngurah Ray international airport has imposed biosecurity measures, such as installing shoe sanitation mats for passengers to walk across as the FMD is expected to enter an endemic stage in Indonesia.