Local News

Bali postpones plans to welcome international travelers in September

Plans to reopen Bali to international tourists on Sept. 11 have been reconsidered following the government’s decision to wait until the end of this year before welcoming foreign visitors.

“The government is still prohibiting its citizens from traveling abroad at least until the end of 2020. In line with the policy, we also cannot open the gate to international travelers until the end of 2020 as the situation in Indonesia, including Bali, is not yet safe to welcome them,” said Bali Governor Wayan Koster in a statement Saturday.

According to Koster, there is no country in the world that has allowed its citizens to travel abroad. “Many countries in the world are still implementing tight restrictions on their citizens due to the still-spreading COVID-19 pandemic, which is threatening their citizens’ health and safety.”

“For example, Australia has not allowed its citizens to travel abroad until 2021. This is also the case for China, Korea, Japan and many European countries,” Koster said.

Koster added that the government fully supported the province’s plans to reopen to international travelers as part of tourism recovery efforts. “However, we should be careful, [we] cannot hurry [such a plan as we] need to be well prepared. In attempting to recover tourism, Bali should not fail, because it will badly impact the image of Indonesia in the eyes of the world.”

Following the decision, Bali is said to be focusing on efforts to attract domestic tourists in a bid to smooth its way to tourism and economic recovery.

The pandemic has badly hit the province’s local economy, 80 percent of which relies on tourism. Bali’s economy contracted 10.98 percent in the second quarter of 2020. At least 2,667 people who work in the tourism sector have lost their job, and 73,631 people have been forced to take unpaid leave.

Previously, Bali was planning to reopen its tourism in three phases, starting on July 9 with the reopening of tourist sites to local residents, followed with reopening access to domestic travelers from regions across Indonesia. The third phase would have been to welcome international travelers on Sept. 11.

Since opening its doors to domestic travelers, Bali has seen an increase in tourist arrivals of more than 100 percent. As of Aug. 14, the number of domestic tourists arriving daily at Ngurah Rai International Airport in Denpasar reached between 2,300 and 2,500. (kes) (Thejakartapost.com 25/08/2020)

North Bali airport project takes a pause as it awaits progress in the development of North-South access

The development of an airport on the north coast of Bali might take a little longer to get off the ground than first expected as Indonesia’s transportation minister has stressed that the project would depend on the progress of the island’s North-South toll road.

While visiting the island last Friday, Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi emphasized that supporting infrastructure, such as the North-South toll road, would be key to the success of a new airport situated in the north of Bali.

“We agreed that we will finalize plans for (North Bali airport) when we finalize plans for supporting infrastructure connecting North and South Bali,” Budi said as quoted by state news agency Antara. 

“We have several alternatives, including toll roads, trains, or even highways. But this is in the domain of PUPR, because we will not build the North Bali airport without that infrastructure.”

According to Budi, since the development of toll roads usually face issues regarding land acquisitions, their development is dependent on the country’s Ministry of Public Works and Public Housing (PUPR).

“So we are still waiting on what PUPR will decide upon,” Budi said, adding that the airport’s construction itself will take around two to three years.

He also confirmed that the location of the new airstrip would still be in Buleleng regency, as officials previously announced. As reported by Antara, the village of Kubutambahan is the most likely spot for the new transportation hub as village officials have reportedly already agreed to allow the development of an airport on their land.

It seems Kubutambahan came around to the idea relatively recently since the village’s head had previously objected to the idea in December of last year over fears that the village’s local customs, culture and wisdom would be destroyed should the new airport be built there.

As reported by Detik, Budi also said last year that the airport in North Bali will likely serve low-cost carriers, whereas Ngurah Rai International Airport will be focused on high-end airlines and travelers. (Coconuts.co 26/08/2020)

‘Kecak’ dance at Bali’s Uluwatu Temple gets ‘new normal’ tweak

Amid the pandemic, Uluwatu Temple Outer Area Tourism, famous for its thrilling kecak dance performance, has officially launched a digital payment service.

According to the Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry’s Regional II destination development director, Wawan Gunawan, the Quick Response Code Indonesian Standard (QRIS)-based payment system allows for a faster, easier, cheaper and more secure service, as it will minimize physical contact.

“Hopefully, it will help revive tourism and the creative economy in Uluwatu,” added Wawan in a statement on Sunday.

The kecak dance at the Uluwatu Temple Outer Area is one of Bali’s must-watch art performances, regularly attracting 6,000 to 8,000 visitors per day before the pandemic. Taking place at the temple’s amphitheater right on the edge of a cliff, it is usually held late in the afternoon with a dramatic sunset over the Indian Ocean as a backdrop.

The tourist destination was closed for some time but recently reopened, although with a lower number of visitors.

As a precaution, health protocols are being implemented, including requiring the dancers to wear face masks, lowering the number of dancers and changing the choreography to allow for physical distancing. Visitors are also required to wear face masks, wash their hands using soap or hand sanitizer and maintain a safe distance according to the signage on their seat.

“The pattern of tourists in this Adaptasi Kebiasaan Baru [Adopting New Behaviors] period has changed. They tend to look for services that implement health protocols such as social distancing and avoid direct physical contact. Hopefully, QRIS will help these tourists feel safe and comfortable during their visit,” said Bali Governor I Wayan Koster.

Koster is hopeful that all tourism players and the public will be able to implement health protocols correctly, with discipline, commitment and responsibility. “If done right, hopefully Bali’s tourism will soon improve, so that in 2021 it will acquire an overall green zone status.”

Bali has reopened to domestic tourists, but plans to welcome foreign visitors have been pushed back until at least at the end of this year due to the still alarming situation. (Thejakartapost.com 25/08/2020)

Indonesia says MotoGP circuit construction will be complete in June 2021

The governor of West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) said the province is still on track to host the world-class MotoGP motorcycle racing event in 2021, with construction set to finish next June.

“At this time, construction for Mandalika Circuit as a whole has reached more than 40 percent progress and we are targeting developments to conclude in June 2021,” NTB Governor Zulkieflimansyah said.

It appears that the COVID-19 pandemic, which spurred additional health protocols, has only slightly affected construction. Zulkieflimansyah seems optimistic that NTB will be able to host MotoGP in Indonesia in October 2021.

There will also be construction for the international airport in Lombok, the governor said, as well as road construction to connect the airport directly to Mandalika, where the street circuit for the racing event is located.

Zulkieflimansyah says MotoGP would help boost the country’s image as a destination for sport tourism, attract more tourists as a whole, and create a multiplier effect, such as more investment and thousands of job creation, among other things.

“We are optimistic that the benefits will help the government in pushing economic growth and revive the national tourism industry after the pandemic,” he said.

Mandalika Circuit is a street circuit built in Mandalika, a business area located south of Lombok.

Indonesia signed a deal with Dorna Sports ⁠— the exclusive commercial and television rights holder for MotoGP ⁠— earlier last year to host the world-class motorcycling races for five years. The first race is set to take place in 2021 in Lombok under the organizing of Mandalika Grand Prix Association (MGPA), a business unit of state-owned Indonesia Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC). In April, the contract was reportedly extended for another five years. (Coconuts.co 25/08/2020)


Ubud writers and food festivals to go online in October

A festival that aims to “rebuild Bali” was announced on Monday by the creator behind the popular Ubud Writers and Readers Festival (UWRF) and Ubud Food Festival (UFF).

Set to be held virtually from Oct. 29 to Nov. 8, KEMBALI20: A Rebuild Bali Festival is said to “bring together the most successful elements of UWRF and UFF”.

“UWRF was created to boost the economy and ‘reflower’ the community after the devastating effects of the first Bali bombings. As a festival with a mission, we believe that once again, it is our duty to help Bali heal and that culture is at the heart of rebuilding societies,” said Yayasan Mudra Swari Saraswati founder and director Janet DeNeefe in a statement.

The online festival will be accessible for artists and audiences around the world through donation-based sessions. The programs are said to include discussions, workshops, book launches, poetry reading, children’s program and film.

Due to the pandemic, both UWRF and UFF, which aim to promote Ubud as a center for arts and culture and showcase Indonesian artists, writers and chefs on an international stage, have been postponed for the first time in 17 years. (Thejakartapost.com 25/08/2020)