Local News

Thousands of Chinese tourists stranded in Bali as government halts flights to and from China

Thousands of Chinese tourists are at risk of being stranded in Bali following the Indonesian government’s decision to halt flights to and from mainland China starting on Wednesday (05/2) at midnight. Most of them, however, are hoping to get a visa extension as the Wuhan coronavirus continues to spread back home. “Most are worried to go back home for fear of getting infected with the coronavirus,” said Elsye Deliana, chairman of Bali Liang, a member of the Association of the Indonesian Tours and Travel Agencies (Asita) that handles the Chinese market. Elsye said many of those Chinese tourists had requested a special policy from the Indonesian government to allow them to stay longer in Indonesia.

Chinese Consul General in Denpasar Guo Haodong said China respects Indonesia’s decision to temporarily stop flights as an attempt to prevent the virus from coming into the country. He added, however, that around 5,000 people were at risk of being stranded in Bali as a result. Although they could leave Bali by catching flights via Indonesia’s neighboring countries, Guo admitted that some of the tourists hoped they could stay in Bali.

“Because of the outbreak in China, some of them don’t want to return and they are hoping to stay in Bali,” said Guo. Guo went on to say that the tourists could only stay for a maximum of 30 days on a visa-on-arrival. The tourists are also aware that they must obey immigration regulations if they wish to stay for more than 30 days. “We have coordinated with the Bali government to facilitate Chinese [people] who are willing to stay longer in Bali,” he emphasized. Guo ensured that all the Chinese tourists in Bali were healthy.

“So far, they seem fine and well. None of them are showing symptoms of the coronavirus.” Bali Tourism Agency head Putu Astawa said the Bali administration would help Chinese tourists who were willing to extend their visas in Bali. “We’ve coordinated with the immigration office. They said they could extend the tourist visas, as long as there is a recommendation from the Bali administration,” Astawa said. The Tourism Ministry’s promotion director for the Chinese market, Vinsensius Jemadu, said the government would help facilitate the needs of Chinese tourists in Bali. “This is a case of force majeure. I think we need to help them as long as they can fulfil all of the requirements,” he said after attending a meeting with tourism players in Bali on Tuesday. (The JakartaPost. 05/02/2020)


‘No reason to worry at all’: Bali officials say island ready to welcome foreign visitors despite global coronavirus outbreak

The Bali provincial government has announced that despite the deadly global outbreak of the novel coronavirus, the island remains ready to welcome and accommodate visitors from around the world. “Bali is indeed very safe, and ready to welcome foreign visitors. No reason to worry at all,” Bali Governor Wayan Koster was quoted as saying in an official statement, issued after a special meeting on the coronavirus outbreak yesterday.

The statement also pointed to good monitoring and handling systems in the province, reaffirming that there is no reason to be concerned while visiting Bali. The system has reportedly been in place for years, notably after the 2003 SARS outbreak. In addition, Vice Governor Tjokorda Oka Artha Ardana Sukawati, or Cok Ace, said that Bali will also accommodate tourists, especially those from China, who plan to extend their stay on the island because of the unexpected circumstances.

“We are open to tourists who want to extend their stay, especially Chinese citizens who may feel safer staying temporarily in Bali,” Cok Ace said, as quoted by state news agency Antara. “Immigration will also be flexible to Chinese tourists who overstay [their visa],” he continued.

Starting tomorrow, Indonesia will begin restricting travelers coming from and going to mainland China, after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus outbreak as a global health emergency. As of Tuesday morning, the death toll in China has exceeded 420, with the government reporting more than 20,000 confirmed cases. The virus has been detected in at least 25 other countries, though Indonesia has remained free of known infections thus far. According to Bali Tourism Agency, citing data provided by the province’s Health Agency, more than 73,000 tourists from China have arrived in Bali since January 13. A total of 18 tourists were taken for further observation and lab tests, but have been cleared from suspicions of having contracted the coronavirus.               (coconuts.com 05/02/2020)


Indonesia closes doors, Bali tourism is expecting a Chinese short term downturn

Chinese tourists have begun cancelling trips all across the Southeast Asian region with Thailand appearing to be worse hit so far by coronavirus outside of China with eight patients and 39 others quarantined preemptively. Bali has not sustained any confirmed cases of the virus so far, but Chinese tourists are now cancelling trips.

With the outbreak of the corona virus in Wuhan, China, the Chinese government banned all travel to and from the city   last Friday in an attempt to curb the spread of the virus. And also have banned tour groups from travelling abroad and domestically. According to a Bali Asita, Chinese section member, who didn’t want to be named, all travel agents in China have been prohibited to send Chinese citizens abroad, including to Bali. “Starting From January 27 and 28, 2020, there won’t be any Chinese tour groups visiting Bali,” the source said to balipost.com on Sunday.

The source also said that the amount of the cancellations haven’t been calculated yet, but based on past data, the number of Chinese tourists who visit Bali during the period of Chinese New Year increased 2-3 times more than normal. “I am sure that all travel agents in Bali won’t be welcoming any guests starting from January 27,” the source added. Meanwhile yesterday, the Chairman of the Bali Tourism Board, IB Agung Partha Adnyana told reporters, “We have asked the hotels not to impose a cancelation fee on the Chinese travel agents and tourists, because after all this is a force majeure situation.”

“We have explained that for Chinese travel agents who have already paid a down payment, they can use it for their next visit,” he added. In sympathy of the situation, the provincial government of Bali has postponed the Bali Kintamani Festival which is planned to be held on February 8th.

“This delay is within an unspecified time limit, but we are trying to run it this year, while waiting for the situation to become clearer,” said Head of Bali Tourism Office Putu Astawa. After repatriating 238 citizens from Wuhan and other cities in China, the Indonesian government declared on Sunday that it would ban all travel to and from China to prevent the spread of a deadly and highly contagious novel coronavirus. The ban, which took effect at 12 a.m. on Monday, prevents visitors who have stayed in China for 14 days or more from visiting or transiting in Indonesia. The government will suspend visa-free and visa on arrival provisions for Chinese citizens.

“The government asks Indonesians not to take trips to mainland China for now,” said Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi, after a Cabinet meeting held by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo at Halim Perdanakusuma Air Force Base in Jakarta on Sunday afternoon. Indonesia has followed the United States, the Philippines and Singapore in imposing travel restrictions to and from China amid rapid contagion of the virus worldwide. (The JakartaPost. 02/02/2020)


Indonesia to waive overstay penalty for Chinese tourists amid travel ban

Indonesia’s immigration office will not penalize Chinese tourists and workers who have overstayed their visas as a result of a recent travel ban, Coordinating Economic Minister Airlangga Hartarto has said. The government has temporarily halted all flights coming to and from China as part of ongoing efforts to prevent a deadly new coronavirus from entering the archipelago.

“We will allow them to overstay [their visas] for up to one month,” Airlangga told reporters on Tuesday. Airlangga said that in support of government policies related to immigration, the government would create hotlines for nine ministries, including the Transportation Ministry, Health Ministry and Manpower Ministry. It would also create hotlines for the Finance Ministry, especially in regards to matters related to its Customs and Excise Directorate General, as well as the Indonesian Food and Drug Monitoring Agency (BPOM).

The Chinese consul general in Denpasar, Bali, Guo Haodong, previously said that China respected Indonesia’s travel ban, but around 5,000 people were at risk of being stranded on the island as a result. Besides suspending flights, Indonesia has also suspended visa-free and visa-on-arrival provisions for Chinese citizens, who made up the second-highest number of foreign tourist visits to Indonesia last year, behind only Malaysia. (The JakartaPost. 06/02/2020)


Bali Police arrest 2 Bulgarians for alleged ATM skimming

Police in Bali arrested two Bulgarian nationals for an alleged skimming attempt, after initially catching one of them removing a hidden camera at a local ATM machine in Canggu, leading authorities to investigate a possible skimming network from Bulgaria.

“We delved into [the case] and a joint task force was able to apprehend another accomplice at a villa in Seminyak, who was working with the suspect. Both the suspects and evidence were taken to the office of Bali Police’s special crime unit,” Bambang Tertianto, vice director of the unit, said in a statement. Police seized a number of items, including several hidden cameras that had been modified to look like TapCash, which is  an e-money card issued by Bank Negara Indonesia (BNI). According to the statement, authorities are now investigating whether a skimming network in Bulgaria could be at play here.

The suspects, identified as Metodi Angelov Nikolov and Yanko Naydenov Borisov, have been individually charged with articles under Indonesia’s Information and Electronic Transactions Law (UU ITE), which carries a maximum sentence of eight years in prison. Bali has quite a bad rap for ATM skimmers, many cases of which have involved Bulgarian nationals. Earlier this month, the Denpasar District Court sentenced 3 Bulgarians to seven months in prison each for attempting an ATM skimming scheme on the island. (coconuts.com 02/02/2020)


MotoGP by the Beach: Indonesia on track to host race in Lombok in 2021with 40% construction progress

Indonesia aims to further boost the country’s tourism as host of the world-class MotoGP motorcycle racing event in 2021 in Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara (NTB), with construction of the street circuit reportedly making good progress so far. “Preparations are going very well I hear, and this is the first of its kind – a MotoGP event by the beach. With this we will promote Indonesian tourism to the world,” said Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investments, as quoted in a statement received by Coconuts Bali. The development of the Mandalika circuit is currently at about 40 percent progress, Luhut said, who mentioned that they expect completion of the construction by October.

President Director of the Indonesia Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC), Abdulbar M. Mansoer, said the option for pre-booking has been open since Jan. 20 and that around 3,000 people have so far signed up. “We are waiting for Dorna too, who will make an announcement later in August 2020. Price for the tickets will be adjusted to the financial capabilities of the people. What’s clear is that they will be given some extraordinary entertainment,” Abdulbar said, referring to the exclusive commercial and television rights holder for MotoGP, Dorna Sports.

Abdulbar said that the Mandalika circuit has been designed with the hills and the sea as its backdrop, and also accounted for space for local residents to watch the race event live from the surrounding hills. It’s not yet clear if that viewpoint will be subject to some kind of fees or anything, though Abdulbar did mention that the tickets will be affordable. ITDC previously estimated that there could be around 100,000 spectators attending the race each day, with the grand prix scheduled for about four days from the qualification stage to the final race.

For those of you who are interested, pre-booking is still open until Feb. 20 https://themandalikagp.com/pre-booking which grants you priority access when official tickets are available for purchase. (coconuts.com 02/02/2020)