Local News

Indonesia halts automatic stay permit extensions for foreigners, announces ‘new normal’ immigration policy


File photo of immigration officers with a foreign traveler at the Ngurah Rai International Airport. Photo: Ditjen Imigrasi

The Indonesian government updated its immigration policy for foreigners effective today, bringing an end to the automatic extension of stay permits that were introduced due to travel restrictions at the onset of the coronavirus outbreak.

The Directorate General of Immigration announced the “new normal” update yesterday across its social media channels, all of which come with at least a 30-day grace period for various stay permit holders in Indonesia, including temporary stay permits (ITAS), permanent stay permits (ITAP), visas on arrival, and free visas.

For foreigners who entered Indonesia with a visa on arrival and were granted an emergency stay permit, you can extend your visas under a 30-day grace period starting today. In response to several commenters on Instagram, the Directorate General said that holders of visas on arrival “can extend several times until the pandemic is over.”

Meanwhile, holders of free visas, which cannot be extended, who were granted emergency stay permits, are instructed to leave the country before Aug. 12. In addition, foreigners holding ITAS and ITAP residing in Indonesia can now renew their stay permits at local immigration offices should their current permits be eligible for extensions. Those whose stay permits are ineligible for any further extension must also leave the country before Aug. 12. Holders of visitor permits (ITK) such as social visas, who were granted emergency stay permits, can request extension within the 30-day grace period starting from July 13 or change it to stay permits.

As for ITK and ITAS holders who have a telex (pre-approval) notification and are already in Indonesia, they will be granted their new permits without having to exit the country after making a payment at local immigration offices.

The new policy also covers holders of expired ITAS or ITAP who are currently abroad, who can now return to Indonesia as long as they have been granted an approval letter from relevant Indonesian authorities or were granted for the stay permits to reunite with family. This group is expected to immediately extend their stay permits at local immigration offices once they return, within the 60-day grace period starting from July 13.

The Directorate General stated that foreigners who fail to comply with these latest provisions will be subject to administrative sanctions, noting that they are effective starting today onwards until further notice. There is also an official WhatsApp chat service for foreign nationals who may have further questions about the new provisions, as seen in the Instagram post below:

The new policy effectively erases previous emergency measures introduced in late March in response to travel restrictions amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which granted automatic extensions of stay permits for eligible foreigners who are unable to return to their home countries and had entered Indonesia after Feb. 5, 2020.

Indonesia still places temporary entry restrictions for foreign nationals, with the exception of ITAS/ITAP holders, diplomats, medical services and humanitarian assistance, airline or maritime crews as well as those working with National Strategic Projects. (Coconuts.co 13/07/2020)


Hotel, resort owners in Bali concede to lower selling prices

Business players in the hospitality sector in Bali, the country’s main tourism hub, have been prompted to sell property below market price, amid the massive hit to the island’s visits due to the pandemic, realtors and experts have stated.

While the asking price for property in the hospitality sector, such as resorts, villas and hotels, has not budged since the outbreak began at the beginning of March, the owners have been more open to selling their property with up to 25 percent off market price, according to Paradise Property Group, a Bali-based resort and villa realtors firm.

“Bali’s tourism slump has greatly affected both property leases and sales. Annual and monthly lease prices could drop up to 50 percent, while sales of property are also seeing more price concessions during negotiations,” the realtor firm’s sales manager, Fransiska Annie, told The Jakarta Post in a phone interview on July 8.

Meanwhile, Fransiska said limited international travel and large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) had also made it difficult for buyers to survey property to understand fair value.

Bali, which relies heavily on tourism, has been severely impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, with foreign visits continuing to slow since March. Foreign tourists traveling through the province’s I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport dipped 64.7 percent in March from the same period last year, which worsened to over 99 percent in the following months until May, according to Statistics Indonesia (BPS) data.

BPS data also showed that hotel occupancy stood at 2.07 percent in May, nearly a 50 point drop from the same period last year, the steepest dive of all provinces in May.

However, despite the pressures from falling occupancy rates, Fransiska also stated that in many cases, Bali property owners had also backed off from negotiations due to buyers’ unreasonable price demands, which could reach 50 percent below market price.

Property consulting firm Colliers International Indonesia director Steve Atherton said that with  lingering uncertainty over current and future economic conditions, Bali’s property owners and buyers were struggling to find middle ground on pricing.

“With declining tourism and the fact that so many hotels are closed, it creates a real vacuum of financial information regarding the operations and how to price the assets in the first place,” Atherton told the Post on July 6.

As both buyers and property owners are unable to set a clear property value projection, Atherton said the best solution for both sides would be to sell partial stakes of the property.

“The current owners would be able to monetize the property and have cash to repay bank loans and obligations, and both sides could work together for the better future. That, I think, is the healthy way for both owners and investors,” he said.

Meanwhile, Real Estate Developers Association (REI) chairman Paulus Totok said there had been no massive property sell-off in Bali yet, and that the price drop in the hospitality sector property had hit equilibrium after a property bubble in 2013.

“Bali has gone through a price correction following a bubble between 2012 and 2013, so currently there are no major changes in prices,” he told the Post on July 8.

However, Paulus acknowledged that there had been an increase in the number of hotels on sale in Bali from property owners that had filed for bankruptcy and had their property acquired by banks.

Previously, the Association of Indonesian Tour and Travel Agencies (ASITA) of Bali had called for the island to be reopened to tourists, as most of its members only had the financial capability to weather the crisis until July. Bali Governor I Wayan Koster then announced in early July a plan to reopen the region’s popular tourist destinations to international visitors on Sept. 11.

“During the early days of the pandemic, banks were slow to implement the government’s restructuration and stimulus policy, so some properties in Bali collapsed. However, the restructuration policy is currently in full force and property owners have the ability to postpone their interest debt payment,” Paulus said. (Thejakartapost.com 13/07/2020)


Visitors capped at 75 as several Bali beaches reopen

Beaches located in Denpasar city and Badung regency have reopened to the public this week under “strict health protocols,” joining the Bali provincial government’s first phase of the so-called “new normal.”

According to reports, 13 beaches around Sanur area in Denpasar reopened yesterday with a limit of 75 visitors at a time.

“We’ll give the example of Bali Beach, if 75 people enter the beach, we will close it. When some people leave, we’ll allow the same number of people to enter,” Dewa Gede Rai, spokesman for the COVID-19 task force in Denpasar, said. 

Dewa said entrances to the beach are guarded with officers, who will regulate the number of people entering and leaving.

Yesterday marked the beginning of the provincial government’s three-step plan to reopen Bali amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which includes opening up tourism to domestic tourists at the end of this month, and to foreign visitors on Sept. 11.

In the first phase, activities are expected to gradually return across different sectors while complying with strict health protocols, with the exception of tourism and education. However, a number of select tourist attractions were permitted to reopen yesterday, such as Bali Safari Park in Gianyar regency and Kuta beach in Badung.

“All of this will be evaluated on every phase and we hope that everything will go smoothly as planned,” Bali Governor Wayan Koster said. (Coconuts.co 13/07/2020)


PLN bolsters power supply to touristy southern Bali

State-owned electricity company PLN has connected a third power supply to southern Bali, promising fewer outages in the Nusa Dua seaside resort area and adjacent Pecatu district. PLN said the latest power supply came from an electricity substation near Ngurah Rai International Airport in Badung, Bali.

The company connected the airport substation to southern Bali’s power grid on Saturday using a 2.85 circuit kilometer high-voltage underground power line (SKTT). The power line can carry up to 250 megawatts (MW) of electricity.

Connecting the third substation-reduced chances of an outage should the others undergo maintenance or shutdowns, said PLN spokesman Agung Murdifi in a statement that day.

“Nusa Dua and Pecatu are prime destinations. Ngurah Rai airport is the gateway. Thus, we have to ensure the electricity supply,” he said.

PLN plans to install 4,460 circuit kilometers of new power lines this year, according to Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry data.

The company is particularly focused on building electricity transmission infrastructure to high economic activity regions, including tourist hotspots, industrial areas and seaports. (Thejakartapost.com 13/07/2020)


7 arrested for alleged endangered green turtles smuggling attempt

Police arrested seven people off the coast of Bali over the weekend for allegedly trying to smuggle dozens of green sea turtles with a jukung, or traditional fishing boat.

“We cannot leave this matter alone because it can damage the ecosystem and the survival of protected species, this is why we made the arrests and detained [the suspects],” Toni Ariadi Effendi, director of water police at the Bali Police, said yesterday. 

The suspects were charged with articles from Indonesia’s conservation law, which carries a maximum sentence of one year imprisonment and a fine of IDR50 million (US$3,456).

Police seized a total of 36 green sea turtles, which are now under the care of the Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) in Denpasar for the time being before they can be released back into the wild.

The green turtle, or Chelonia mydas, is a protected species under a 1999 Government Regulation on preserving flora and fauna species. This species of large sea turtle is listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). (Coconuts.co 13/07/2020)


Travel + Leisure names Bali hotel Capella Ubud as World’s Best in 2020

It’s certainly no time to be traveling just yet; not with countries across the globe reporting over 12 million COVID-19 cases. There are good reasons why global leisure travel has been placed on a halt for the past couple of months, even if that means the hibernation of Bali’s tourism industry.

And yet, In spite of all that is going on in the world, we’ve arrived at the time of year when Travel + Leisure publishes their annual World’s Best Awards, as voted by their readers. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that some spots in our beloved Bali were voted some of the world’s best.

This year, the survey closed on March 2, just before officials began issuing stay-at-home orders to control the coronavirus outbreak, and the results therefore reflect T+L’s readers’ experiences before the pandemic.

The title for the World’s Best Hotel was awarded to Capella Ubud, a luxury hideaway in the highlands that was designed by visionaire Bill Bensley. The Ritz-Carlton, Belmond Jimbaran Puri, and The Mulia also made it to the list this year ⁠— ranking fourth, 23rd, and 35th, respectively ⁠— for the top 100 hotels in the world.

The magazine’s readers again voted Ubud as one of the best cities in the world this year, ranking ninth out of a list of 25. When it comes to the best 15 cities in Asia, Ubud placed sixth.

Though Bali was ranked the third best island in the world last year, the Island of the Gods places 17th on the list in 2020. Last year, Bali became an honoree of the World’s Best Award Hall of Fame, which means the destination has placed on the Best Islands in the World list for 10 consecutive years.

There are ongoing discussions on what travel would look like after the pandemic, which might be starkly different than what we have gotten used to. Perhaps this list would come in handy for when it’s safe and appropriate to be traveling again. For the time being, though, let’s all do our best to stay safe and healthy. (Coconuts.co 14/07/2020)