Local News

Garuda disinfects aircraft following report of confirmed coronavirus case on Bali-Shanghai flight

Garuda Indonesia has grounded an aircraft used for flight GA858 following reports that a Chinese national who had   tested positive for the new coronavirus was on board on the Bali-Shanghai flight on Jan. 28.

Garuda director of operations Tumpal M. Hutapea said in press release on Thursday that the airline would decontaminate the aircraft by spraying disinfectant “to ensure the cleanliness of the flight’s cabin and to sterilize it against bacteria”. The procedure would also be carried out on the plane’s cargo area, he said. Besides disinfecting the plane, Tumpal said Garuda would also change the aircraft’s High Efficiency Particulate Arresting (HEPA) air filter, a standard feature installed on every Garuda aircraft to kill viruses and bacteria within the cabin.

“Efforts being carried out are in line with [those used to prevent the] coronavirus epidemic in a number of countries. We are doing this as part of our commitment to strengthening anticipatory measures against the virus,” he said. “[The measures] are part of Garuda’s standard safety and sanitation procedures during an epidemic.” The release did not mention, however, whether the coronavirus patient identified as Jin had indeed boarded the flight, or whether the company would take measures to inform other passengers on the flight that a fellow traveler had tested positive.

Garuda Indonesia representatives did not immediately respond to The Jakarta Post’s request for comment on the matter. The Huainan Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Feb. 5 that a patient named Jin who had tested positive for the new coronavirus had flown on Lion Air flight JT2618 from Wuhan to Bali on Jan. 22. The patient stayed on the island for about a week before taking a Garuda Indonesia flight GA858 from Bali to Shanghai on Jan. 28. The center urged passengers of the two flights to impose self-quarantine measures, head to a hospital wearing a mask if they have a fever and avoid public transportation.

The release did say that Garuda Indonesia cabin crew members who serviced the Bali-Shanghai route were subjected to “routine health check-ups” at the airport’s Port Health Authority (KKP) before and after their duties. “Garuda Indonesia ensured that all passengers on flights to and from China had undergone the profiling and medical check procedures conducted by relevant authorities at the airport,” Tumpal said. Garuda Indonesia has temporarily halted all flights to and from China since Feb. 5, in line with the government’s policy in regards to the outbreak. (TheJakartaPost.com 14/02/2020)


SOEs ministry to upgrade Benoa into cruise port

The State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) Ministry plans to develop Benoa Harbor, through state-owned port operator PT Pelindo III, into the archipelago’s hub port for cruise liners to attract more tourists. The government is intent on developing the harbor as a tourism gateway for cruises as well as new destinations in Bali and other maritime destinations in the country, SOEs Minister Erick Thohir said in a written statement on Friday, following a coordination meeting in Bali on the Benoa Maritime Tourism Hub development project.

“By holding a coordination meeting and visiting the port, related stakeholders will realize the obstacles Pelindo III will face [in developing the harborside], and what kind of support should be provided for the project,” said Erick. He added that developers would also be building supporting facilities, such as an exhibition hall for micro, small and medium enterprises,  a cultural venue, a yacht pier and an urban forest.

To support the harborfront development project, Pelindo III plans to move the 70-hectare container and cargo terminal at Benoa Port to another location. He added that Benoa Port in Bali topped the list with 75 arrivals, followed by 17 arrivals at Lembar Port in West Nusa Tenggara, and 16 arrivals at  Tanjung Emas Port, Central Java. Pelindo III planned to share new features at its port facilities with cruise ship operators, including improvements at Benoa Port and the Gilimas Terminal at Lembar Port. For example, it had deepened the waterways at Benoa Port from a previous low water spring (LWS) of 11 meters to 13 meters.

“Before, large vessels of more than 250 meters could only dock outside the port, but with the revitalization, they can now dock at the berths. This will certainly add interest in cruise ship [tourism], as safety and comfort is guaranteed,” operations and commercial director Putut Sri Mulianto of Pelindo III said. Improving port facilities was the company’s contribution to achieving the national target of 20 million foreign tourist arrivals in 2020. “This is an example of good governance, in which all stakeholders are involved in a transparent process from the outset. I want every SOEs [ministry] project to be done this way,” said the minister.

In addition to developing Benoa Harbor for tourism, Pelindo III is constructing a designated venue for the Melasti ritual, a Hindu-Balinese purification ritual for cleansing and recharging the spiritual energy of sacred temple objects. (The JakartaPost.com)


Indonesia offers big discounts to attract foreign tourists amid cancellations

The government will provide discounts of up to 30 percent for both foreign and local travelers in a bid to revive Indonesia’s tourism, as more tourists cancel their vacation plans to the country over fears of the deadly coronavirus outbreak. Unveiled by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo during a Cabinet meeting on Monday 17/02, the plan will be relayed to travel companies, airlines and other related industries.

“I met with the finance minister this morning and we will weigh the possibility of providing a discount or incentive of up to 30 percent of actual prices to foreign tourists,” he said. No details of the incentives have been announced but related ministers said that discounts would be applied to tour package to certain destinations and service fees waived on airlines at local airports, among other measures. Finance Minister Sri Mulyani said the details of proposal would soon be discussed with other related ministries, such the Health Ministry, Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry, Transportation Ministry, as well as State-Owned Enterprises (SOE) Ministry.

“Everything is currently being finalized, including how long the [initiative will run]. We are still calculating the different incentives offered during the low season and peak season.” Under the plan, tourists visiting certain destinations will, among other deals, get discounts on flights and hotels.  Meanwhile, for business players in tourism-related industries such as travel agents and airlines, the government will offer several incentive that can help them pass through the difficult time. The minister also urged airlines to reroute their China flights to new potential markets or add flights to their busiest routes. The potential markets include Australia and countries in the Middle East and South Asia like India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Meanwhile, Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Wishnutama Kusubandio said on Monday that discounts may be given to tourist visiting destinations such as Bali, Likupang in North Sulawesi, Bintan and Batam in Riau Islands, Yogyakarta, Lombok and Labuan Bajo. The ministry plans to offer a tour package that includes flights, accommodation and tickets for attractions with promotional rates in cooperation with online travel agents and tour operators. “We will decide the incentive this week, we will have a follow-up meeting [on Tuesday]. We will coordinate so the incentives can be effective in reviving tourism,” he said. The coronavirus outbreak had been a blow to Indonesia’s travel industry, with massive cancellations of flights and hotels.

The Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI) has recorded at least 20,000 cancellations for Bali since the rise in the new coronavirus in early January. The tourism minister said Indonesia could suffer potential losses of up to US$2.8 billion from Chinese tourists, whose number have reached an average of 2 million travelers. Indonesia saw   16.1 million foreign tourist arrivals in 2019, with Chinese visitors contributing 12 percent of all foreign arrivals. (The JakartaPost.com 21/02/2020)


Enforcing travel restrictions, Indonesian immigration rejects dozens of foreigners from entering Bali amid coronavirus outbreak

Indonesian immigration has so far rejected 77 foreigners from entering Indonesia via Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport amid the international outbreak of the deadly novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

“As of 10pm [on Sunday], the number of foreigners rejected from entering Indonesia via Bali is at 77, but we are unable to provide details on each of their nationalities,” Putu Suhendra, who heads the information department at the Ngurah Rai Immigration Office, told Tribun earlier today. Last Wednesday, Indonesia began suspending flights going to and coming from China, as well as visa-free and visa-on-arrival provisions for Chinese nationals. The restrictions on visa provisions are also applicable to travelers of other nationalities who have traveled to China in the last two weeks.

Suhendra said that 49 Chinese citizens have requested for an emergency permit to stay longer in Indonesia, as they are wary of returning to their home country at this time. The Indonesian government has announced that penalties will not be applicable to Chinese tourists and workers who overstayed their visas because of the temporary travel ban. China’s Consulate-General in Bali on Saturday chartered a flight and repatriated 61 of their citizens back to Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in that country, though thousands are reportedly still stranded since Indonesia enforced its travel restrictions.

As of Monday morning, the 2019-nCoV has killed over 900 people and infected more than 40,000 others. The disease has so far affected at least 25 countries, though there has yet to be a single confirmed case on Indonesian soil. (coconut.com)


Chinese tourists to extend their stay in Bali amid international coronavirus outbreak

Dozens of Chinese tourists in Bali are reportedly applying to extend their stay permits amid the novel coronavirus outbreak in their country. According to the Ngurah Rai Immigration Office, at least 76 Chinese tourists filed their application yesterday. Some of them are required to pay penalties for overstaying before proceeding to apply for visa extensions, as reported by Kompas.

“We will extend their visa for a month. Every visa-on-arrival can be extended once for a 30-day stay permit,” Sutrisno, an official from the Ministry of Law and Human Rights, said. There are around 3,000 Chinese tourists still in Bali, following a flight restriction enforced by the Indonesian government for travelers going to and coming from China.

On Saturday, China’s Consulate-General in Bali chartered a flight and repatriated 61 of their citizens back to Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in that country. The novel coronavirus, now officially named COVID-19 by the World Health Organization, has now killed more than 1,100 people and infected over 44,000 as of this morning. The disease has so far affected at least 27 other countries around the world, including Singapore and Malaysia. Indonesia has yet to confirm a COVID-19 case in the country. (Coconuts.com 13/02/2020)