Bali’s appeal as a destination seemed unshakeable. Google Trends data shows that search volume for the Indonesian island has remained relatively constant over the past five years, with spikes in online searches coinciding with Mount Agung’s volcanic activity in late 2017 and the earthquake of August 2018. In fact, the only thing that has managed to erode its appeal is the inability to get there – since March last year, when Covid-19 reached pandemic proportions and the world ground to a halt, searches have fallen by about half. The impact of a lack of international travellers in Bali has been well documented. Its tourism-dependent economy is Indonesia’s hardest hit and tales of those employed in the industry returning to farming and fishing have been told in newspapers from Hong Kong to the United States. Unsurprisingly, the island’s reopening has also been much discussed, especially after governor Wayan Koster announced that overseas arrivals would be welcomed back last September, only to be overruled by the central government at the eleventh hour . So, we’re advising hopeful holidaymakers to take the following news, reported by such reputable publications as the Daily Mail and Bali.com, with a pinch of salt: the Island of the Gods is said to be establishing zones in which tourists can roam freely. Koster, once again, was the source of the information. Speaking at the launch of the island’s first drive-through vaccination centre, on February 28, the governor said, “[The Bali administration] along with the Health Ministry are formulating green zones, and those green zones are places where both domestic and foreign tourists will be allowed to visit.” This plan does at least appear to have the backing of Indonesia’s government, lending it some credence. According to news site Coconuts Bali, “Indonesian ministers have also brought up the potential plan recently, including Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Pandjaitan, who appears optimistic about declining coronavirus cases in Bali.” While visiting a site that could host another drive-though vaccination centre on the island, Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Sandiaga Uno “also brought up plans to designate some areas in Bali as green [...] Covid-19 zones, explaining that vaccines will be prioritised for popular areas like Nusa Dua, Ubud, Kuta, and Nusa Penida”, according to another Coconuts article. However, that is about all that’s been said on the matter. “The governor has yet to reveal more details about the plan,” reported Coconuts. Still, that didn’t stop it from becoming headline news. “Bali sets up ‘green zones’ as it braces to welcome tourists back – here’s what it means for Aussies desperate to visit the holiday island,” proclaimed the Daily Mail . What it means for Aussies, and anyone else with an interest in visiting Bali, is that they should sit tight. The island is going nwhere and neither, we are willing to wager, is Indonesia’s border closure. At least for the time being. Although the country’s coronavirus caseload is decreasing, thousands of new infections are still being recorded every day. According to figures from Bali’s provincial government Covid-19 task force, on March 5, the island’s seven-day average was 218 new cases daily. As Al Jazeera reported on March 4, “[Indonesia] is aiming to vaccinate 181.5 million out of the 270 million population by 2021. But since the public roll-out began on January 13, only one million people have been fully vaccinated with two doses, according to Our World in Data.” At the time of writing, 3.39 million have received at least their first shot. In Bali, tourism workers are among those being prioritised, illustrating the importance officials place on the recovery of the island’s economy and its tourism industry, but if we’ve learned anything over the past 12 months or so, it’s not to believe in reopenings until we see them. Anyone remember the Hong Kong-Singapore travel bubble ? Qantas launches ‘mystery flights’, which sell out within hours Depending on when it happens, Bali’s reopening might not mean much anyway for Australians, who have had their ban on international travel extended until June 17. Enter flagship carrier Qantas, which, after running a number of environmentally questionable “flights to nowhere” last year, has upped the ante with flights to somewhere – albeit somewhere secret. The airline is offering “mystery flights”, departing from Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne on March 27, April 18 and May 1, respectively. According to CNN Travel, “Travellers who book one of the three journeys on offer will put their fates into the hands of the airline” – although, isn’t that the case on every flight? The twist is that the destination of the one-day round-trip trips will be revealed only upon touchdown … or earlier, depending on whether passengers can decode a series of clues that Qantas says will “ensure it is an appropriate outing for their areas of interest and to assist with whether to pack a snorkel or sneakers in their carry-on baggage”. The flights, which went on sale at midday on March 4, sold out within hours. All three “will operate with net zero emissions, with 100 per cent of emissions carbon offset”, assures the airline. Qantas is presumably unaware of the growing body of evidence that suggests carbon offsetting doesn’t work. Wink Hotels launches for the ‘Indochine 2.0 generation’ Brands will do anything to get noticed. Congratulations, Wink Hotels, you have our attention, although not necessarily in the way you intended. According to a press release, the “revolutionary new hospitality brand, which aims to redefine affordable luxury in Vietnam, has dispensed with traditional recruitment processes used by the industry.” So far, so PR. But, wait, it gets better. In place of CVs and interviews to identify what used to be called hotel staff, the group held a “casting day” to find a team of “Wink Guides” for its soon-to-open Wink Hotel Saigon Centre. “The mandate for Wink Guides is to serve as centralised contacts to avoid multiple chain of interactions,” the blurb continues. Er … what? “The casting objective was simple.” Sadly, the press release is near impossible to understand. But perhaps that’s because we’re not part of the “Indochine 2.0 generation” Wink Hotels was created for.