Ukrainians, Russians Living in Bali Amid Ongoing War
22 February 2023 00:54 WIB
TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Despite the war between Ukraine and Russia's military forces, such hostility is not seen in the relationship between the citizens of the two countries who currently reside in Bali. Most who have chosen one of Indonesia’s most popular tourist islands left their war-stricken countries since February last year.
With a conflict that seems to never end, Bali has become one of the temporary places of refuge for regular citizens and business people from the devastating war. According to data provided by the government, over 7,000 Ukrainians stepped foot in Bali. In January alone, there were officially 2,500 arrivals.
Over 58,000 Russians arrived in Bali last year. In January 2023, there were more than 22,500 arrivals from Russia, which was the second-largest foreign tourist in the last month.
Last year, according to the Head of the Bali Tourism Office Tjokorda Bagus Pemayun, the arrival of tourists from Russia and Ukraine reached its peak. The trend has increased since Bali started opening its tourism doors with a more relaxed covid quarantine restriction on 7 March 2022.
"Why Bali? Despite the war, Russian and Ukrainian tourists have increased significantly because Bali is indeed a peaceful place. They [maybe] decided to live in Bali for its peacefulness respective to their country of origin," he said.
The head of the Ukrainian community in Bali, who only wanted to be identified as Dmytro, said the war broke out while he was on vacation on the island. Now he is building a community in Bali for other Ukrainians.
After the war started, a Ukrainian travel agency decided to move its base to Bali. The bureau also employs several Ukrainians there.
On the other side of the spectrum, Russian citizens also offered support to their fellow citizens who wish to move to Indonesia. One example is Anna Pomarina who has a consultant helping Russian-speaking companies set up shops in Indonesia. Anna also reportedly owns a hotel in Bali, which became his temporary residence since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Statistics Indonesia (BPS), Russian tourists are ranked 9th in 2021 in terms of financial spending in Indonesia with an average of US$3,710 per trip spent.
Data from the Indonesian Investment Coordinating Board shows that Russian businesses accounted for more than 6.5 percent of foreign investment in Bali last year, up from 5 percent in 2021, with a concentration in real estate.
Despite being far from home, many Ukrainians and Russians still hope to return to their homes when the war ends.
FATIMA ASNI SOARES | DEWI | CNA
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