Local News


International Airport to undergo swab tests

The Bali provincial government has made it compulsory for travelers entering Bali via Ngurah Rai International Airport and Benoa Port to undergo a swab test, following the loosening of travel restrictions by the Indonesian Transportation Ministry amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In response to this policy [from the Transportation Ministry] we cannot close ourselves off, but we can respond by stricter means of screening of people entering Bali,” regional secretary of the Bali administration, Dewa Made Indra, said on Saturday.

The Indonesian government began allowing limited types of travel early this month, in which public transportations like ferries and airlines are permitted to resume some of their services, after announcing a temporary ban on them in late April as part of an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus in the archipelago. Most travelers coming through via both Ngurah Rai International Airport and Benoa Port are returning Indonesian migrant workers, thousands of whom were previously subject to rapid tests upon arrival. Indra explained that travelers coming through those two ports of entry will now be subject to swab tests using the PCR method.

“Other than that, whether they are Indonesian migrant workers or not, [they] must undergo quarantine,” Indra continued.

Bali has so far confirmed 348 positive COVID-19 cases, including 250 recoveries and four deaths. (coconuts.co 18/05/2020)

 

Health protocols to be priority in tourism recovery strategy

The government is preparing a tourism recovery strategy after the sector was severely impacted by the emergency measures put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the country.

The Office of the Coordinating Maritime Affairs and Investment Minister’s undersecretary, Ridwan Djamaluddin, said the government would soon establish a team to coordinate efforts to revive tourism alongside private companies and stakeholders.

“We are currently formulating a strategy and raising funds to revive tourism. The ministry has proposed establishing a joint team to coordinate our efforts, as the government and private sector cannot work separately” he said during an online discussion held by Tourism Aware Citizens (Masata) on May 14.

Tourism came to a virtual halt when the COVID-19 outbreak hit Indonesia in March. The situation worsened in the following months after the government imposed a partial lockdown to halt the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19.

According to the latest data issued by Statistic Indonesia (BPS), foreign tourist arrivals fell 64.1 percent year-on-year (yoy) in March to 470,898 visitors, a level unseen since February 2009.

As part of the recovery program, the Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry will launch online marketing campaigns and improve hygiene and safety standards in major tourist destinations to attract foreign tourists.

“As part of the rebound strategy, we will deliver a message to the market that the safety and hygiene of our tourist destinations are in accordance with international standards. By doing so, we can spur confidence and maintain our credibility among potential visitors,” said the ministry’s deputy head of resources and institutional affairs, Frans Teguh.

Bali’s deputy governor Tjokorda Oka Arta Ardhana said the province planned to establish “tourism clusters”, which would be exclusive tourist zones in which high-level health protocols would be implemented, so that tourists could be welcomed back without the risk of spreading COVID-19 to locals.

“We don’t want to have a second wave of infections when we reopen. Therefore, we are currently discussing setting up tourism clusters around the island,” he said.

A recent survey by the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) confirmed the predicted change in traveler preferences, with health and safety becoming a major concern for future trips. The survey was conducted among 1,200 Chinese tourists, who made up the largest group of foreign visitors to the country before the pandemic. (thejakartapost.com 18/05/2020)

 

Without lockdown, Bali province relies on local customs to tackle COVID-19

Bali, which has so far confirmed more than 300 cases of COVID-19 and recently recorded a spike in local transmissions, is insisting against implementing the central government’s Large-Scale Social Restrictions (PSBB) protocol. The governor has instead emphasized the role of local customs in tackling the outbreak.

“We are not implementing regulations, but advisories and instructions. If we can ask people to remain disciplined without threat or regulations, then that’s something new,” Bali Governor Wayan Koster said. “It’s about how to increase awareness among the people that what we are facing is something that would require discipline, order, and therefore I don’t think we need PSBB.” PSBB, which is essentially a partial lockdown, has been implemented in various regions across Indonesia. At the provincial level, this includes Jakarta – which accounts for more than a third of the country’s COVID-19 toll with 5,554 cases – and West Sumatra, with 339 cases. Koster claims that the public has duly followed official advisories and instructions on matters related to COVID-19, and highlighted the role of traditional villages across the island.

“Traditional villages are our primary pillar in controlling the people’s movement in their respective areas so that the residents don’t leave or receive others from other areas, unless there are urgent matters,” Koster said.

However, prominent Balinese activist Wayan Gendo Suardana has consistently highlighted on social media that the Bali provincial government is only short of officially implementing PSBB, but has actually applied the same principles on the ground. On Instagram, Gendo said that when the public follows what he termed as “unofficial PSBB,” the people are being deprived of their rights to have their basic needs fulfilled. In fact, regional secretary of the Bali administration Dewa Made Indra did say in early April that the strict limitations in the province have preceded the PSBB policy.

 

“Here in Bali we are already enforcing strict limitations. Substantially we have preceded this PSBB policy, but formally and according to the [new] government regulation of course we haven’t,” Indra was quoted as saying then. (coconuts.co 15/05/2020)

 

Indonesia to start collecting 10% VAT from Netflix, Spotify in July

Indonesia will start collecting 10 percent value-added tax on over the top digital services from abroad on July 1, potentially adding the bills of local customers of movie streaming service Netflix, game distribution Steam, music streaming Spotify and many others, according to the latest regulation from the Finance Ministry made public on Friday.

“Under this regulation, digital products such as streaming music subscriptions, streaming films, digital applications, and games, as well as online services from abroad will be treated in a level playing field as other local products that have been subject to VAT,” the ministry’s Directorate General of Taxes said in a statement on Friday. The tax office would later determine the threshold and decide which companies or digital services that must collect the tax for the government. With more than 175 million active internet users, Indonesia has grown to become a key market for the digital economy in the region. But, lack of regulations had constrained government in the past in tapping the sector.

The Finance Ministry has been drawing the plan for several months now, but the Covid-19 pandemic has brought forward the urgency to implement the measure sooner than planned. The government plans to spend Rp 405 trillion ($27 billion) in fiscal stimulus for healthcare, social safety net, and subsidies for the businesses to ease the pandemic impact on the Indonesian economy. (jakartaglobe.id 18/05/2020)

 

Tropical Bali looking to reopen to tourists in October

Indonesia’s tropical holiday island of Bali could reopen to tourists in October, thanks to its success in controlling the coronavirus outbreak, the government said on Friday. If the infection curve continued to improve, the tourism ministry is looking to revitalise destinations and do promotional work for some parts of the country, including Bali, between June and October, Ni Wayan Giri Adnyani, secretary of the ministry, said in the statement. Partial reopening of those areas, which also include the city of Yogyakarta and Riau islands province, may begin in October, she said.

Bali’s economy depends largely on visitors. Its gross domestic product (GDP) contracted 1.14% on-year in January-March, compared with a 2.97% GDP expansion nationally. Foreign tourist arrivals into Indonesia plunged more than 60% in March, compared to the year-earlier month, with Chinese arrivals sliding more than 97%. (Reuters.com 16/05/2020)

 

Bali set to become Tourism Ministry’s pilot project for new health-focused program

Indonesia’s Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry says it will be implementing a Cleanliness, Health, and Safety (CHS) program across the archipelago’s top tourist destinations as it prepares to welcome visitors after the coronavirus pandemic, with Bali set on becoming the project’s pilot location.

“CHS aims to increase tourists’ trust toward destinations and the tourism industry in Indonesia after COVID-19 to push visitors and movements in Indonesia, which in the beginning will be dominated by domestic tourists,” Ni Wayan Giri Adnyani, secretary of the ministry, said in a statement. The government has expressed optimism that Bali could reopen to tourists in October, citing the province’s success thus far in controlling the coronavirus outbreak.

The standard operating procedure (SOP) for this CHS program, as laid out by the ministry, appears to be pretty straight forward with an emphasis on healthy habits and the use of technology, as well as a mention of zero-waste management for the destinations. The recently issued statement, however, did not disclose further details.

Officials plan on carrying out a trial run for this new, post-pandemic SOP – which will eventually result in a CHS certification for destinations deemed to have fulfilled the relevant criteria. As the country’s top tourist destination, Bali will become the first to implement the CHS program, specifically within the Nusa Dua area, Giri said. (Coconuts.co 18/05/2020)

 

Large crowds sighted on first official day of restrictions in Denpasar

The first official day of the Restrictions on People’s Activities (PKM) protocol in Denpasar appears to have produced a few hiccups, as photos circulating on social media show packed crowds queuing to meet the new requirements.

Officials in Bali have made it a point to differentiate between PKM and the central government’s Large-Scale Social Restrictions (PSBB), highlighting that all access to Denpasar will remain open though with a number of restrictions in place. Denpasar is the first region in the province to apply such a measure, details of which are laid out in a Mayoral Regulation.

The regulation covers a number of aspects, including instructions for students to study at home, restrictions on work and religious activities, as well as those in public settings such as traditional markets. In addition, it also lays out restrictions on transportations and people’s movements. Citizens who are caught violating these rules will be given administrative sanctions, such as a written warning or temporary closure of business, and traditional sanctions according to their respective traditional villages.

The initial phase of PKM in Denpasar will be implemented until May 30, continued with another phase that is scheduled until June 14, with officials expected to evaluate the measure on a weekly basis. (Coconuts.co 16/05/2020)