Local News

Bali in ‘no hurry’ to reopen tourism, governor says

Bali Governor Wayan Koster says he is in no hurry to reopen tourist attractions across the province, emphasizing that Bali will implement a carefully planned approach to welcome a “new era” for the popular holiday destination.

“I am not in a position where I will follow the complaints of tourism players who want to reopen quickly,” Bali Governor Wayan Koster said.

The reopening of Bali amid the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be a hot topic among officials, tourism players, and global travelers, many of whom have expressed varying degrees of optimism ⁠— since the early days of the coronavirus outbreak ⁠— that Pulau Dewata could return to some kind of normal soon. This includes the Indonesian government previously saying the reopening could happen as early as October.

Tourism players said in April that Bali stands to lose US$9 billion, while the country’s central bank said last month that Bali is among the hardest hit economies in Indonesia, both as a result of the pandemic.

“I do understand. Because we depend on this tourism. So many tourism players are facing a difficult time right now. Whether the businessowners or their employees. But all of this should not tempt us to make a rash decision, especially when it’s not based on adequate data,” he continued.

According to the latest official data, Bali has so far confirmed 760 COVID-19 cases, including 502 recoveries and 6 deaths. The province is seeing a surge in local transmission cases recently, which now make up nearly 60 percent of the provincial total.

In an exclusive interview with local news outlet Tribun, Koster said that COVID-19 is a momentum for Bali to establish a “new era,” though he stopped short of going into more details. Any plans to reopen Bali will be limited, selective, and carried out step-by-step, the governor added.

Citing the high recovery rate for Bali, the administration has reportedly received instructions to be the first to apply a “new normal” from the national COVID-19 task force and the central government, though Koster stressed that it will not be possible for the time being.

“[Initial] plans to open in June have now been delayed,” Koster said, adding that the province will focus on addressing increasing local transmissions, such as in Denpasar and Buleleng.

Koster again noted that tourist attractions ⁠— including beaches ⁠— across Bali are not to reopen just yet, though visitors have been flocking to the beach since earlier this month. (Coconuts.co 16/06/2020)

Indonesia draws up plans for ‘travel bubble’ with China, South Korea, Japan, and Australia

The Indonesian government says it is currently drawing up plans for a so-called “travel bubble” with four Asia Pacific countries as part of efforts to revive the country’s tourism sector, despite the number of COVID-19 cases continuing to climb in the archipelago nation.

“We are planning a travel bubble for four countries, which are China, South Korea, Japan and Australia,” Odo Manuhutu, deputy coordinating minister for maritime affairs and investment, told reporters during a virtual news conference on Friday.

“For the initial stage we are opening [our borders] firstly to those four countries, and other countries will follow suit, and of course health protocols will be prioritized.”

Odo said the Indonesian Foreign Ministry is amid drawing up criteria for foreign travelers permitted to visit the country.

The plan has been met with some confusion from tourism experts and the general public, many of whom noted the surge of daily coronavirus cases, especially in this past week. As of yesterday afternoon, Indonesia has officially recorded more than 38,000 COVID-19 cases and 2,134 deaths.

“I am confused, is it a blunder on the part of the government? Because what is meant by ‘travel bubble’ are two countries whose borders are in close proximity,” Azril Azhari, chairman of Indonesia Tourism Intellectuals Association (ICPI), told Kompas yesterday.

“… It means they need to be in the same bubble. This means [countries] like Australia and New Zealand with similar health protocols,” Azril said, adding that the concept is also known as a “travel corridor.”

Indonesia is the second country in Southeast Asia planning a travel bubble recently, after Thailand also announced last week the possibility of forming travel bubbles with countries that have low COVID-19 rates of infection, including China, Vietnam and New Zealand. Thailand has so far recorded 3,135 coronavirus cases, including 58 deaths, and observed a relatively low number of cases since late April.

Meanwhile, plans for a travel bubble between neighboring countries Australia and New Zealand were announced by those countries’ officials in early May, though no specific time frame seems to be in place just yet. It is worth noting, however, that the two countries have done relatively well in the fight against the coronavirus, as they have recorded relatively low rates of infection and smaller numbers of deaths.

‘In-city’ tourism

Indonesian officials are also planning to offer packages for “in-city tourism” ladened with strict health protocols, as part of an effort to revive domestic tourism.

“Right now there’s a tendency among the public to choose holiday destinations closer to where they live. In this program we hope to gain the support of regional governments, in terms of promoting ‘in-city’ tourism packages, where of course health protocols will be prioritized,” Odo said.

According to a statement issued by his ministry, domestic tourism contributes more than 50 percent to the Indonesian tourism sector, as the government aims to increase that to about 70 percent amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Coconuts.co 15/06/2020)

Fears over virus cast shadow on plan to restart tourism

Fears over virus transmission have cast a shadow on the government’s plan to reopen tourist destinations across Indonesia, especially as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb despite the authorities’ health protocols for the so-called new normal. The head of the Indonesian Tour and Travel Agencies Association (Asita) in Bali, I Ketut Ardana, said on June 2 that the tourist industry on the resort island was still vigilant, since local transmission of the coronavirus was still happening. The government should carefully decide on whether or not to reopen tourist destinations.

“If we take the wrong step, the impact can be severe for Bali,” he said. “That is why we must be really careful [in making the decision] and wait until the situation has improved.”

“If the virus transmission curve were flattening, we may be prepared for reopening. Right now, however, local transmission is still happening, and of course that is one of our considerations,” Ketut said, adding that visitors’ trust in Bali’s safety was key for a recovery in the industry.

Asita Bali has drafted health and hygiene protocols that will be applied by its members in the new normal.

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo called on the Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry in late May to prepare “special strategies” to revive domestic tourism in regions safe from COVID-19 for the transition to the new normal.

However, he asked the ministry not to rush to open tourist areas, urging it to gradually identify areas that were ready based on COVID-19 basic reproduction rates.

Tourism is one of many sectors severely battered by the outbreak, as people stay at home to contain the virus spread. Foreign tourist arrivals dropped 87.44 percent year-on-year (yoy) to 160,000 in April, the lowest in recent history, as countries around the world have imposed different degrees of lockdowns or physical distancing measures.

Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Wishnutama Kusubandio said his ministry had prepared standard operating procedures (SOPs) for various segments within the tourist industry and the creative economy and was “synchronizing the plan with other ministries, institutions and task forces.” No exact date for reopening has been announced until the time of writing.

“We are still focused on handling COVID-19,” Bali Tourism Agency head I Putu Astawa told The Jakarta Post on June 4.

“Reopening Bali’s tourism will depend on the development of the pandemic,” he said, adding that the reopening would be done gradually and selectively.

Similarly, the Southeast Maluku in Maluku province is aware that reopening tourism too soon could increase the risk of virus transmission in the regency, which has so far maintained a “green zone” status for COVID-19 and intends to keep it that way. The regency is known for its white sand beaches and Kei Islands.

“For the time being, I still can’t imagine seeing tourists from outside our region come to our area,” said Regent M. Thaher Hanubun on June 4. “Perhaps, if tourism is reopened, we will limit the visits to local people within the regency first, because for now, opening the airport and seaport still entails a high risk.”

The Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry’s COVID-19 Task Force spokesperson, Ari Juliano, said on June 1 that the ministry was preparing the tourism SOPs, so they could be implemented when the country reopens. The protocols require all stakeholders to enforce social distancing, to make sure people wear masks and wash their hands frequently and to avoid the formation of crowds.

While waiting for the government’s decision and the SOP for the reopening, regional administrations and associations have worked on initiatives to improve their readiness to embrace the new normal.

Bali is also preparing its new normal protocols by lowering the capacity of tourists by up to 50 percent and delaying the reopening of nightclubs, among other things. Meanwhile, the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI) has issued an SOP on health and hygiene to all its members.

“The [decision] to reopen tourism must come with risk mitigation and prudent considerations for each destination,” said Muhammad Baiquni, a tourism expert from Gadjah Mada University, on June 3.

Meanwhile, the chairwoman of the Indonesian Travel Agents Association (Astindo), Elly Hutabarat, said the reopening required discipline in obeying health protocol.

“Strict supervision at the destinations’ main entrances, such as airports, will be key for the tourist industry during the new normal to minimize the virus risk,” she said. (TheJakartapost.com 15/06/2020)

Squats by the beach: Influencer accused of insensitivity for exercising near religious ceremony in Bali

The beauty of Bali’s beaches may be well-known across the world, but did you know that the sights you get to see here are often more than just great waves and gorgeous sunsets? Let us be your humble guide and let you know that when you visit, you might witness a traditional ceremony or an exclusive behind the scenes from the life of an influencer. Or both, if you’re lucky.

Yesterday, Canggu-based Instagram community account @thecanggupole posted a video showing the two contrasting scenes right next to each other, with a beach in Bali as the backdrop.

The beginning of this short clip showed a swimsuit-wearing foreign woman doing squats by the beach (with her crotch hovering up and down above an innocent dog, no less) while a friend walked around her with a camera to capture the moment. The video then panned to the left to show a group of Balinese women in traditional clothing as they prepared what appear to be offerings for a ceremony.

Bali’s beaches are still officially closed (though there are few exceptions as to who is permitted access, including for fishing and religious ceremonies), as part of the province’s measure to curb the spread of the coronavirus. However, this past week has shown that people are disregarding the restrictions and are flocking to the beach anyway.

The clip, which is making its rounds online and has since been reposted by other accounts, triggered criticism from netizens, many of whom are lambasting the squatting woman and her friend for ignoring that a religious ritual was about to take place right next to them.

We’re not sure yet if the squatting lady is a certified trainer or if she was only squatting for social media clout, but from the two reps that we saw in the clip, we have to say we’re pretty impressed with her squat form.

Yet this has gone down as another case of misbehaving tourists in Bali, if public discourse on the incident is anything to go by. Bali has certainly seen its fair share of disrespectful tourists over the years, including a video showing a couple from the Czech Republic washing the woman’s private parts with holy water from a Hindu temple in Ubud.

While there’s nothing inherently wrong with making social media content, especially with Bali as the backdrop, it should really just be common practice to take into account local context and what’s happening around you. (Coconuts.co 15/06/2020)

Ferry capsizes in Bali after running aground trying to enter harbour

A passenger ferry carrying 33 vehicles and 65 souls capsized in Bali after running aground trying to dock in a harbour. 65 passengers and crew members were forced to abandon ship after the Ro-Ro KMP Dharma Rucitra III ferry took on water, tilted on its side and then capsized.

The passenger ferry, arriving from Lembar, Lombok Island, was attempting to dock at the Padang Bai port in eastern Bali around 10pm local time on June 12. Ferry capsizes in Bali after trying to enter harbour with passengers. It is believed that the ferry tilted after some of the vehicles onboard starting shifting during the docking process

Despite the best efforts of the crew, water flooded the ferry’s engine meaning there was nothing they could do. Authorities began evacuating the 48 passengers and 17 crew members and it is reported that nobody onboard was injured.

Head of Padang Bai Class IV Port Authority Ni Luh Putu Eka Suyasmin said: ‘The ship could not be docked to the dock and at 21:45 Wita we evacuated passengers and crew to the dock in safe condition. The evacuation process was completed at 22:18 Wita.’

Besides passengers, the ferry was also transporting ten large trucks, eight Tronton, three medium trucks, three small vehicles and nine motorbikes. After the engine was flooded, port authorities worked to evacuate all 65 passengers and crew on board All 65 onboard were rescued without injury and all of them underwent medical checks once they safely returned to dry land

It is believed that the ferry tilted after some of the vehicles onboard starting shifting during the docking process. Following the evacuation, all passengers and crew underwent medical checks.

Ni Luh Putu Eka Suyasmin said: ‘This morning we will check the condition of the ship and ask for the help of a tug boat from Pertamina to shift the ship.

‘We ensure that the location of the incident is safe and does not interfere with shipping activities.’ (Dailymail.co.uk 15/06/2020)

These are 10 New Habits of Aircraft Passengers at PT Angkasa Pura II Airport During the Adaptation Towards New Normal

In Indonesia, national aviation stakeholders respond to the pandemic by adapting so that flight operations in particular are maintained. Passenger aircraft, for example, adapt new habits to get to the new normal by changing behavior that prioritizes aspects of health and hygiene.

“The sight of airplane passengers stopping in front of an automatic hand sanitizer engine and then cleaning hands is common. They now pay more attention to health and hygiene aspects, “explained President Director of PT Angkasa Pura II (Persero) Muhammad Awaluddin.

Following are the new habits of aircraft passengers and visitors at PT Angkasa Pura II airports:

  1. Use a mask
    The use of masks is also a new habit for airplane passengers, even it is a must. Passengers wear masks from the airport to when they are on the plane.
  2. Wash your hands frequently
    Aircraft passengers and airport visitors are more likely to wash their hands using both hand sanitizers and running water in the sink.
    Since the pandemic was announced in March 2020, PT Angkasa Pura II has provided up to 355 automatic hand sanitizer machines in 19 airports managed by the company.
    In addition, PT Angkasa Pura II also added 53 wash basins to complement existing sinks in toilets and other places.
  3. Implement physical distancing
    Passengers now understand the importance of physical distancing. In the waiting room (boarding lounge) or at queue points, airplane passengers apply physical distancing even sometimes without being reminded.
  4. Undergoing PCR Test or Rapid-test
    During this new habit of adaptation, every passenger of the aircraft must carry out a PCR test with a negative COVID-19 result and a rapid-test with a non-reactive COVID-19 result.
  5. Bring documents as travel conditions
    For passengers on domestic routes currently required to bring identification and PCR test documents (valid for 7 days at the time of departure) or rapid-test (valid for 3 days at the time of departure) for inspection at the airport.
  6. Arrive 2-3 hours early
    In the midst of a pandemic, aircraft passengers also adhere to flight procedures determined by the government. “Compared to normal conditions, airplane passengers now arrive at the airport much earlier to process departures. Like for example at Soekarno-Hatta Airport, it is usually possible they arrive 1 hour before domestic departure, now prospective passengers are already at the airport 2-3 hours before departure. “
  1. Choose touchless services
    During this pandemic, contact with various objects must be reduced. Passenger aircraft also chose it as a new habit. Following this, PT Angkasa Pura II provides touchless facilities such as foot pedal buttons on the elevator, automatic sink, automatic hand sanitizer machine and so on.
  2. Measuring body temperature
    Body temperature measurements carried out by aircraft passengers are now commonplace at PT Angkasa Pura II airport. At all PT Angkasa Pura II airports there are currently 82 thermos gun devices and 29 thermal scanners to measure passengers’ body temperature.
  3. Self check-in
    Independent check-in is a new habit in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. In all PT Angkasa Pura II airports, every month passengers who self-check in in the middle of this pandemic range from 1,000 to 2,000 passengers, or 10% more than the total passengers during flight restrictions.
  4. Cashless Transactions
    Passenger planes currently transact cashless more often, not using banknotes or coins to reduce the risk of spread. Cashless transactions also avoid cashiers and customers making physical contact with each other.

PT Angkasa Pura II will soon launch Travelation to examine documents digitally. Through Travelation, prospective aircraft passengers can upload the required files as a condition of being allowed to fly. Muhammad Awaluddin said digitization in all aspects had become a necessity especially during these conditions.

“The demand is efficiency in terms of time in the midst of additional procedures that must be followed by aircraft passengers, and one of the solutions is through Travel,” explained Muhammad Awaluddin. (Angkasapura2.co.id 15/06/2020)