Bali has begun to reopen to tourists on Thursday after the COVID-19 pandemic caused an 18-month halt on travel into the country.

Indonesia has confirmed 19 eligible countries – including New Zealand, Japan, and Western Europe will be allowed in.

Travellers must be fully vaccinated at least two weeks prior to entering the country and must hotel quarantine for five days once they arrive.

Indonesia’s tourism agency claims the reopening plan is yet to be matched by demand; some saying hotel reservations still remain low.

Skal Bali’s Vice President Liam Hayes says the COVID-19 pandemic decimated the island’s tourism sector, but “not the people”.

“The people are very, very strong, they’re positive, and they’ve actually taken this opportunity to renovate, redo their restaurants and their bars, the hotels and get everything ready for reopening,” he said.

Mr Hayes told Sky News Australia his organisation was lobbying to have the five-day hotel quarantine requirement removed, with a preference for “visa on arrival, and no quarantine”.

Australian travellers are yet to be included in Indonesia’s initial intake of tourists; however, there are hopes travel can resume to Indonesia by the end of the year.

“Australians are the favourite tourists – it’s generational now,” Mr Hayes said.

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