Local News

Bali’s recovery crucial for Indonesian tourism: minister

Indonesia’s tourism industry appears to hinge on Bali’s revival amid the COVID-19 pandemic, with one minister warning that other destinations in the archipelago could be crippled should Bali fail to recover.

“Bali’s recovery is crucial for national and regional tourism,” Minister of National Development (Bappenas) Suharso Monoarfa said during a virtual discussion on Sunday.

According to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), tourism last year contributed around 5.7 percent to Indonesia’s national economy and about 9.7 percent of total employment.

The country’s top tourist destination Bali, meanwhile, is said to contribute more than half to the national tourism industry, as reported by state news agency Antara. The province’s economy is among the hardest hit in Indonesia as a result of the pandemic.

Suharso said that Indonesia expects to see a significant decrease – between 12 and 16 million – of foreign visitors this year. In comparison, Indonesia welcomed about 16.1 million foreign visitors in 2019.

Coronavirus cases in Indonesia have not shown any signs of slowing down to warrant travel safety, and the country yesterday surpassed the 100,000 cases mark. Bali, meanwhile, has seen the number of cases more than doubled since July 1, with 3,219 cases reported as of yesterday.

Despite the public health reality, Bali is set to reopen for domestic tourists this coming Friday, with plans already set to welcome foreign tourists starting on Sept. 11.

Suharso also added that Bali has a lead in tourism recovery because of its existing infrastructures and local customs, such as pecalang(traditional Balinese security forces), which could help to minimize local transmissions.

Minister of Maritime Affairs and Investment, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, is reportedly scheduled to attend a reopening ceremony for Bali this week, highlighting that reopening tourism will help quickly pull people back to the workforce.

“Because people are already bored at home, they want to go to Bali, Jogja [Yogyakarta], Banyuwangi, and everywhere else,” Luhut said. (Coconuts.co 28/07/2020)


Bali to reopen to international tourists on Sept. 11

Bali Governor I Wayan Koster has announced that the world famous resort island will reopen its borders for international tourists on Sept. 11 under strict health protocol.

Koster explained that the Bali administration had prepared a three-phase plan on relaxing restrictions to welcome tourists to the island. The first phase started on July 9 when the administration began reopening local businesses and tourist spots for residents of Bali.

“We’ll start the second phase on July 31 by reopening tourism for domestic tourists,” Koster said on Wednesday as reported by tempo.com.

“The third phase would be launched on Sept. 11. We’ll open our borders for international tourists.”

The governor explained that his administration had set up health protocols at tourist destinations and other public places to curb transmission of the highly contagious coronavirus. He would also require international tourists to be tested negative for COVID-19 prior to their trips.

“International tourists would be required to provide negative COVID-19 test results that are valid for two weeks in accordance with the circular issued by the transportation minister,” he said.

Tourism in Bali has been hit hard by the global pandemic, which has cut off travel to the island, hence the sharp decline in tourists this year.

Koster said international tourists visiting Bali contributed to 41 percent to the country’s tourism revenues, amounting to around Rp 116 trillion (US$7.97 billion). President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo previously urged regional administrations to ensure that tourism in the new normal era provided tourists with safety and comfort so that they could stay longer and spend more.

Koster said that, in 2019, 6.3 million international tourists visited Bali, accounting for 39 percent of international tourism in the country.

“However, we don’t want to focus solely on international tourists, since the potential for local tourists is also great,” Koster said. (Thejakartapost.com 27/07/2020)


Indonesia allows new visa application for foreigners in updated immigration policy

Foreigners who entered Indonesia with visa-free access are now told to apply for a telex visa in order to apply for other stay permits that will allow them to remain in the country, Director General of Immigration Jhoni Ginting said in a circular issued yesterday.

Following the backlash and confusion to the country’s updated immigration policy, which went into effect on July 13, Jhoni laid out additional provisions explaining the steps that can be taken for various permit holders, which effectively confirms that most foreigners should be able to remain in Indonesia as long as they follow the official steps.

The new update includes foreign nationals who entered the country with visa-free access, as well as those whose temporary stay permits (ITAS) and permanent stay permits (ITAP) have expired. According to the circular, foreigners under these categories should apply for a telex visa using Immigration’s online application system.

The term “telex visa” is used to refer to a recommendation letter pre-approved by Indonesia’s Directorate General of Immigration for prospective visa applicants, which must then be delivered to and processed at Indonesian embassies abroad in order to obtain the actual visa.

However, given that these are unprecedented times, foreigners granted the telex visa can simply apply for either ITAS or visitor permits (ITK) and make the necessary payment to Immigration without leaving Indonesia.

These latest provisions come a little over a week after Immigration announced its new policy, which brought an end to the emergency stay permits that were introduced due to travel restrictions at the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak.

The “new normal” update, announced only a few days before it went into force on July 13, previously stated that foreigners who entered Indonesia under the visa-free facility cannot extend their visas and are therefore instructed to leave the country before Aug. 12. Meanwhile, foreigners holding ITAS and ITAP residing in Indonesia but are ineligible for any further extension, must also leave the country within the 30-day grace period.

The more recently announced provisions, therefore, appear to at least provide an option for foreigners to remain in Indonesia amid the COVID-19 pandemic, especially those whose visas cannot be extended or have expired.


American fugitive captured in Bali allegedly made porn to survive while in hiding

A recently captured Interpol fugitive, 50-year-old American Marcus Beam, who is wanted for alleged investment fraud in the United States, allegedly produced and sold pornographic videos to make money while hiding out in Bali, police have said.

Investigators of the Bali Police’s general crimes division and the Counter Transnational and Organized Crime (CTOC) task force arrested Beam and his female friend, a 48-year-old identified as WPC on Thursday.

“He made pornographic movies to make money on the internet. That was one of his activities to survive in Bali. He made a lot of contacts with local people,” Bali Police chief Insp. Gen. Petrus Reinhard Golose said at Bali Police’s headquarters in Denpasar on Friday as reported by tempo.co.

He explained that Beam had been living in Bali since January. During his stay, until he was captured, he and his female friend allegedly uploaded their personal adult videos onto a website to make money to cover his living costs.

Deputy director of the Bali Police’s general crimes division Adj. Sr. Comr. Suratno added that the authorities had only managed to find one adult video of the identified “dozens”. The police also named WPC as a witness.

Beam and WPC, both American nationals, were arrested at a villa in Badung regency, Bali. Authorities also confiscated a passport, five mobile phones, one folding knife, 14 sex toys and 13 other electronic devices as evidence.

Beam has been accused of embezzling around US$500,000 from investors in Chicago, US. He reportedly used the money for his personal expenses instead of placing it in investment funds.

After previously being detained by US authorities in September, he allegedly escaped the US in January using a passport that listed a different name.

Despite there being no extradition treaty between Indonesia and the US, Petrus said that Beam would be sent back to his home country under an agreement between the two countries’ police forces. (mfp)


Car runs over and kills 11-month-old baby, police suspect negligent driving

An 11-month-old baby in Bangli regency died after a car ran over her yesterday morning, making this the second death of a child involving negligent driving in Bali in less than two weeks.

According to reports, a 38-year-old man identified by his initials MADP was reversing his car from the garage when he noticed that he ran over something twice. He got out of the car and found the dead infant under his car.

The parents of the baby, identified as IGS and NKI, worked in MADP’s house. Police have yet to question either of them as they are still traumatized by the incident.

“They are still witnesses because we have yet to question other witnesses and the parents are still in shock,” Sulhadi, a spokesman from the Bangli Police, said.

For the time being, police said the baby died due to the driver’s negligent driving. It is not yet clear why the baby had been in the driveway in the first place.

It was only a little over a week ago, on July 20, that a 7-year-old child died after she was struck by a car that was started by her mother in Karangasem regency.

Authorities said the mother did not check the handbrake before starting the car, so it reversed on its own while the girl was playing behind it. The car reversed with enough speed that it knocked down a 1 meter wall upon collision.

“The victim was playing behind the car [and was hit] along with a 1 meter wall that collapsed,” I Gede Sunjaya Wirya, chief of Selat sub-precinct, said.

The child was then taken to the nearby community clinic (Puskesmas), but was pronounced dead upon arrival.

“Such a pity, it happened because the parents were negligent. We are not processing this [legally] because it involves parents and their child,” Wirya said.