GILI TRAWANGAN- Chef Ilhani used to serve up Japanese cuisine to holidaymakers every night, now he makes just $3 a day selling fried snacks on the near empty streets of once bustling Gili Trawangan. The coronavirus pandemic has shuttered almost all the resorts and restaurants across Indonesia’s Gili Islands, famed for their turquoise waters, sandy beaches, and diverse marine life. Situated close to Bali, tourism and the local economy had been booming, with around 1,500 foreign visitors visiting Trawangan every day. But when authorities first imposed a nationwide virus lockdown in March 2020 and then closed borders to international travellers, his restaurant could not survive the loss of business. Almost two years on, he says he is struggling to support his wife and four children. “Life is painfully difficult now. I sell fried snacks because it is something that locals can afford,” he told AFP, adding: “In the past, whatever we sell there are tourists who will buy, but now as you can see the island is deserted.” The three Gili islands — Trawangan, Meno and Air — have long been reliant on foreign travellers.
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