Local News

Bali tourism industry concerned with Australia’s plan to restrict overseas travel until late 2021

The increasing likelihood that Australia’s borders will remain closed for international travel until late next year appears to have added another layer of concerns among tourism players in Bali, many of whom had been counting on the return of foreign travelers to revive their businesses.

Last week, an Australian official confirmed that Aussies should not expect to be able to travel overseas until late 2021 due to COVID-19 restrictions. The country’s treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, said that while domestic travel might resume by the end of 2020, international travel would not be possible until there’s a vaccine.

Indonesia, with 349,160 confirmed coronavirus cases as of yesterday, now has the highest tally of COVID-19 cases in Southeast Asia. Though the country has yet to open its borders or announce plans of doing so in the near future, tourism has been high on the list of priorities among officials.

“Of course [this latest update] is a great concern, this potentially poses a threat to tourism in Bali,” I Gusti Ngurah Rai Suryawijaya, who is deputy chairman of the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI) in Bali, said, citing the fact that Australians made up the highest number of tourists visiting the province in 2019.

“We’re really hoping that [borders] will open for foreign tourists. But at this time a number of countries are still closed.”

While the focus on domestic tourism at this time seems to have helped Bali a little, officials have noted that they are not significant enough. An occupancy rate above 40 percent is said to be the minimum threshold for hotels to turn a profit, but the rate has only hovered between 5 and 9 percent since Bali opened to domestic travelers in late July.

Bali’s tourism-dominated economy has been severely impacted by the pandemic, with more than 76,000 workers furloughed and 532 companies shutting down operations in Badung regency alone, as of early October.

In addition, Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Wishnutama has expressed concerns that there’s a negative image of Indonesian tourism at the moment in Australia.

“Our tourism image is not in a good condition. The perspectives abroad, especially in Australia … I see that there’s been negative reports coming out of Australian media,” Wishnutama said.

The minister emphasized the importance of implementing strict health protocols to improve those negative perceptions, which would help support the discussions the ministry is having with its counterparts abroad.

Earlier this month, Indonesia’s airport management firm PT Angkasa Pura I said they are in talks with South Korean officials to establish a special route for travelers from the East Asian country to visit Bali during the pandemic.


Food running out in Bali’s animal conservation centers amid depleted funds

Animal conservation centers across Indonesia are struggling to cover costs for food and medicine amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is especially true in Bali, according to the Indonesian Zoo Association (PKBSI), who called on the government and local administrations to provide the centers with much-needed aid, as PKBSI alone could not save them.

Back in April, the association said that 92 percent of the association’s members ⁠— which comprise zoos located in Sumatra, Java, Bali, Lombok, and Borneo ⁠— only have enough animal feed for another month, while around five percent can only manage for another one to three months.

Then, the Natural Resources Conservation Center (BKSDA) in Bali said that zoos and conservation centers were still able to afford animal feed.

Now, months later, it appears that the situation has grown even more dire that PKBSI is further urging all parties to assist the centers. PKBSI chairman Rahmat Shah said this could be in the form of tax exemptions from the Finance Ministry, a solution for food stock from the Environment and Forestry Ministry, and promotions from the Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry to attract more visitors.

Rahmat was also quoted as saying that the situation may force the centers to take extreme alternative measures, including “sacrificing” herbivores that are old and relatively easy to breed in order to feed carnivorous animals.

“The situation is still okay for now, even though we are feeding [the animals] at a minimum. We are not violating regulations, we will not take this route unless we really must. So please help us,” Rahmat said.

Coconuts has reached out to Rahmat for further information and clarification, and will update this story as soon as we hear back from him.

Pande Suastika, Bali Bird Park general manager, said the park prepared a six-month strategy at the beginning of the pandemic, but is now facing a prolonged impact of the public health crisis.

“We anticipated for the change in food stock, and we have a standard between maximum and minimum, we have yet to reach the minimum but we are well on our way,” Pande said, adding that in the case of Bali Bird Park, staff are planting what they could in order to provide more food stock for the birds.

Though conservation centers have reopened with health protocols in place since they temporarily closed in March to curb the spread of the coronavirus, PKBSI said revenue from visitors are still not enough to cover expenses. (Coconuts.co 20/10/2020)


‘We Love Bali’ program among efforts to boost Bali’s tourism industry

Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Wishnutama Kusubandio launched “We Love Bali”, an educational program and cleanliness, health, safety and environment (CHSE) campaign for Bali’s residents, tourism stakeholders and creative economy entrepreneurs, on Wednesday.

The program is aimed at boosting the island’s travel and creative economy industries and, at the same time, giving Bali’s tourism industry a positive image.

“The We Love Bali program is expected to educate the public about the implementation of health protocols based on CHSE,” said Wishnutama during the launch, explaining that the program would involve 409 participants from tourism and creative economy industries, 8,421 employees and 4,800 individuals.

Antaranews.com reported that Bali residents were invited to see for themselves how CHSE measures were implemented at various tourist attractions as well as hotels through the We Love Bali program.

Wishnutama explained that the program would include 12 familiarization trips (fam trips), featuring three-day and two-night trips to various destinations in Bali.

The minister hoped that the campaign would help to develop safety awareness in the minds of tourism stakeholders and travelers.

In addition to launching the We Love Bali program, the Tourism Ministry also plans to set aside Rp 119 billion (US$8 million) to provide free CHSE certification for businesses across Indonesia. The certificate is intended to help regain tourists’ trust in travel.

“Travel businesses, hotel managements and restaurant owners can immediately improve their preparations in cleanliness, health and safety protocol implementation in accordance with the government’s COVID-19 health protocols [through the program],” he said.

Tourism is the beating heart of Bali’s economy as around 60 percent of the island’s gross regional product comes from this sector.

Unfortunately, the tourism industry is also one of the sectors hardest-hit by the COVID-19 outbreak. According to Bali Tourism Agency, the island had lost an estimated Rp 48.5 trillion (US$3.33 billion) in tourism revenue between March and July.

Bali reopened to tourists in August, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cleanliness and safety are among the major concerns for travelers before deciding to go on a trip during a pandemic.

Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) Asia Pacific territory director Paul Tosh Tanner said last month that while tourists had held back from visiting Indonesia’s diving spots, particularly in Bali, due to border closures, health and safety played a substantial role in their future travel intentions.

“People will come to Indonesia once they know they are safe. Before, people were looking for adventures and risk-taking, now, families and independent travelers are looking for something safe,” Tanner said during a broadcast event called Indonesia Dive Tourism Market Updates 2020. (TheJakartapost.com 20/10/2020)


Two expats have been found exhausted in a jungle near Mount Agung in Bali after getting lost.

Two expats have been found exhausted in a jungle near Mount Agung in Bali after getting lost while hiking. The two expats were found by a local at the bottom of Mount Agung on Wednesday afternoon Oct 14th 2020 at 4:30pm.

38-year-old Trina Nguyen from Canada and 37-year-old Lucifer Everylove from the United States were found in the jungle in the Kubu area of Karangasem. The couple got lost after they attempted to return home from hiking Mount Agung for several days. Bypasser, I Ketut Suparta who lives in the area found the exhausted foreigners when he was looking for grass to feed his cattle.

16-year-old Ketut took the expats to his house and gave them food, water and clothing. After letting giving them some time to rest, Ketut contacted police and reported that the couple had been lost in the jungle.

Head of Kubu Police Department, I Nengah Sona came to the house at around midnight to check the hikers condition and investigate.

According to information from the expats who spoke Indonesian, they said that they started their journey to to explore more of Bali from their place in Sanur on Sunday Oct 11th 2020 at 10:00am. They had hiked up Mount Agung and were headed back down the mountain but got lost and were too tired to continue.

Once they were recovered, officer Nengah Sona took them to the Police Station to ensure their safety.

“They were fine, and have gained their stamina so we took them to our office afterwards” Nengah Sona added. (TheBalisun.com 18/10/2020)


New ferry route helping bali traffic flow from Gilimanuk to Denpasar

The new ferry route from Ketapang Port in Java to Lombok in now open which has helped reduce traffic congestion from Gilimanuk to Denpasar.

The opening of the new route has reduced the traffic on the national Gilimanuk – Denpasar road.

Nirjaya also said that the reduction in commercial vehicles using the road would help preserve the highway.

“The asphalt that we use for the road is the B type, which can only take 8 tons of the weight from each vehicle.  We all know that most of the trucks that used to take this road were overcapacity which damaged the asphalt” Nirjaya said.

According to the data, the number of the overcapacity vehicles has decreased, especially since the Covid-19 Pandemic.

“It also affects the travel time. It used to take around 4 hours for people to drive from Gilimanuk Port to Denpasar, but with less traffic nowadays it only takes 3 or 3.5 hours maximum.” Nirjaya added.

For now the only ferries being operated on the route are from the Directorate General of Marine Transportation only.

Ferries of Indonesian Harbour, Ltd (Pelindo) will be in operation on the route by the end of 2020

The Manager of Gilimanuk Port, Windra Soelistiawan said that when the direct route to Lombok can be operated by all ferries next year, it will help reduce the number of traffic accidents on the Denpasar – Gilimanuk road by eliminating a portion of the commercial vehicles.

“I hope it will reduce traffic accidents that are usually caused by reckless drivers and overcapacity trucks and inexperienced drivers that lose control of their vehicles,” Windra concluded.