Plans to re-open Bali to foreign tourists may be put on hold

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After reopening to domestic flights on July 31st, plans to reopen Bali to foreign tourists from mid September are now in doubt.

There are concerns that it may be too early to open the island destination to foreigners.

State-Owned Enterprises Minister Erick Thohir, who oversees the country’s coronavirus taskforce, was quoted as saying in an online discussion, “We don’t want that the programme to make Indonesia healthy become compromised by the plan to allow foreign tourists to come, and it creates possible new clusters,” adding, “Therefore, the committee has decided to review this plan to allow foreign tourists to come.”

Around 6.3 million foreign tourists came to Bali directly last year, with Australia being a leading feeder market.

China looks to expand its high-speed rail network two-fold by 2035

China’s hunger for new rail links looks set to continue until at least 2035 with more than 200,000 kilometers of railways slated for construction over the next 15 years. This will mean that the overall rail network will increase in size by 41 per cent and the size of the high speed rail network, where speeds of more than 250 km/h can be achieved, will almost double.

In the first six months of this year, investment in railways amounted to 325.8 billion Yuan, an increase of 1.2 percent year on year. This came at a time when other fixed asset investments fell by around 3.1 per cent over the same time period.

Larry Hu, chief China economist with Macquarie Capital was quoted as saying, “China’s economic growth has three pillars: exports, property and infrastructure investment,” adding, “Exports can no longer be relied upon, and property speculation will be curbed, so infrastructure investment is the last pillar that shouldn’t fall.”

China is rightly proud of its high-speed network, but in reality it is a necessity since the country covers such a large geographical area. It is seen as a critical investment to create a single market in the vast country.

Shen Jianguang, a long-time Chinese economist who works for JD Digits, was quoted as saying, “It is a blueprint for 2035, when China will be much richer and more prosperous than today. It makes sense to connect every city with half a million people into the high-speed railway network – Frankfurt became the economic heart of Germany when its population was about half a million.”

Cambodia cancels its October Water Festival

The Government of Cambodia has announced that it will call off the three-day Water Festival that was due to take place between 30th October and 1st Nov 2020. The reason given is concerns about crowds at a time of Covid-19 transmission prevention.

Ek Tha, spokesman for the office of the Council of Ministers, was quoted as saying, “At Cambodia’s Water Festival, tens of thousands of people gather to enjoy the traditional event around the river fronts of Tonle Sap and the four arms of the Mekong,” adding, “Although we do not have community transmission in the country, we don’t want to take the risk.”

Last year the Water Festival drew 4.7 million domestic visitors and over 31,000 foreigners.