Local News

Bali tourism industry will receive US$78.5 million in economic stimulus

The Indonesian government has announced that the Bali tourism industry will receive US $78.5 million (IDR 1,1 trillion) in stimulus funding to help survive the pandemic and prepare health protocols for the eventual return of tourism.

Bali will receive the largest part of the national stimulus program due to the hard hit tourism sector.

The stimulus from the central government will be delivered to all tourism areas in Bali explained Indonesian Minister of Finance, Sri Mulyani.

“Badung will get USD $67,7 million, Gianyar will get USD $9,6 million, Karangasem will get USD $971,428, Buleleng will get USD $957,142, Klungkung will get USD $1,4 million, Tabanan will get USD $528,571, Bangli will get USD $70,785 and Jimbaran will get USD $121,428,” she said.

“Bali alone will get 1/3 of the total cash assistance from Central Government”  Mulyani said during a meeting with the Commission XI of Indonesian Senators on Thursday Nov 12th 2020.

The Central Government is granting a total USD $235,7 million in stimulus packages to affected tourism areas nationwide under a program that will run until the end of 2021.

The stimulus will be granted to tourism businesses and the regional governments to help survive the pandemic financially and prepare for a cleaner and safer tourism environment for travelers.

For businesses to qualify for funding, they must hold a valid business permit, paid their taxes in 2019 and have operated until at least July, 2020.

“Each Regional Government will determine the amount of money each business gets depending on their tax contribution from 2019,” Sri Mulyani concluded. (Image: ©The Bali Sun – I Wayan Yatika) (Thebalisun.com 16/11/2020)


Ministry to start bidding process for nine toll roads worth Rp.142.5 trillion by year-end

The Public Works and Housing Ministry is aiming to start the bidding process of nine toll road sections, with a combined length of 350 kilometers and combined investment of around Rp 142.5 trillion (US$10 billion), by year-end, a minister has said.

Minister Basuki Hadimuljono on Sunday said the government aimed to expedite the toll road bidding process to push down logistics costs, improve connectivity and provide employment opportunities in the country.

“We believe that only through improved connectivity can we increase investment on the ground and create more jobs in the future,” he said in a statement.

The proposed toll roads in Banten, worth around Rp 18.5 trillion, and the 37.7 km access toll road in West Java, with an estimated investment of Rp 6.36 trillion.

Other listed toll road projects up for bidding are in Jakarta, stretching for 21.5 km, as well as Bali’s 95.5 km Gilimanuk-Mengwi toll road worth Rp 19.7 trillion. Other toll roads include the Semanan-Balaraja toll road in Banten, worth around Rp 15.5 trillion.

The nine projects are among 158 ongoing infrastructure projects that are funded through the public-private partnership (PPP) scheme, worth around Rp 1.3 quadrillion, which are currently in either the transaction, preparation or planning process according to the ministry’s document.

The government has long made efforts to reduce the stubbornly high logistics costs in the country and reduce price disparities among the country’s many islands. The country’s logistic costs stand at 23.5 percent of the country’s GDP, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said in September.

“In 2021, we will start the procurement process for six roads that span 208.7 km and a drinking water system project. If everything goes smoothly, we could execute the process for all listed projects,” the ministry’s infrastructure financing director general Eko “Heri” Djoeli Heripoerwanto said in an online press conference on Nov. 11. (Thejakartapost.com 16/11/2020)


Indonesian government inspects Bali hospital in preparation for international tourism reopening

More signs are pointing towards Bali reopening for international tourism as Indonesian authorities inspected a Bali hospital to ensure it was ready to receive tourists if needed.

Authorities from the Ministry of Foreign affairs and the Ministry of Health visited Sanglah Public Hospital in Denpasar on Friday Nov 13th 2020 to ensure the safety of tourists once Bali reopens.

Their team was inspecting Sanglah Hospital to ensure its operating protocols in handling COVID-19 patients were all being followed properly.

During the visit, the team from Minister of International Affairs were accompanied by authorities from the Ministry of Health and the Bali Health Agency.

They were onsite to inspect the way the hospital receives new Covid-19 patients, check the capacity of the treatment rooms and oversea the laboratory facility protocols.

The visit was to ensure that Sanglah Hospital is ready to receive travelers in the case of COVID-19 infections.

The Director of Public and Operational Management, Dr Ni Luh Dharma Kerti Natih presented the facilities that Sanglah Hospital has prepared for dealing with COVID-19.

She explained that all the medical staff have been trained and understand every protocol regarding how to handle Covid-19 patients.

She also said that all the infrastructure, logistics, and experience they have, has prepared the hospital to be ready for any situation that might present when Bali does reopen.

According to the Instagram post by The Sanglah hospital they were preparing for the return of international tourism.

“Soon Bali will be open to international flights.” the post read.


Bali Hotels Association says Australian media’s damning report about Bali is ‘far from the truth’

The halt in global travel amid the pandemic has impacted tourist destinations across the world, yet one recent report from an Australian news channel might make you think that Bali is on the verge of total collapse and might not bounce back from the hard times.

A Current Affair (ACA), a program from Australia’s Channel 9, published a report on the COVID-19 situation in Bali on Nov. 10 on its social media accounts, questioning whether Bali can survive without tourists. The five-minute clip showed footage of closed shops and empty streets in Kuta, as well as scenes from an empty and trashed hotel in Legian.

It’s true enough to say that these are challenging times for the province, where more than half of its economy is dominated by tourism. Bali’s unemployment rate jumped to 5.63 percent recently, and it is the hardest-hit region in Indonesia amid the pandemic. However, ACA’s report crucially left out those impacted the most by these hardships ⁠— the Balinese people themselves ⁠— and did not include various efforts rolled out by the government, communities and civil society organizations to revive the economy.

Unsurprisingly, ACA’s report did not sit well with many people, such as this user on Twitter:

Bali Hotels Association (BHA), whose members include general managers of over 100 four-star and five-star hotels and resorts in Bali, issued a statement today in response to ACA’s report, highlighting how the news piece implied “that all hotels are like this in Bali and that the island is worn and torn.”

“[It is] far from the truth. This type of misleading news has the potential to create a negative image towards the destination,” the statement said.

The association also said it has gathered information on the hotel that was shown by ACA, noting that the accommodation ⁠— which is not a member of BHA ⁠— was closed due to a change in ownership and is undergoing renovations, with reopening scheduled for next year. In the statement, BHA also noted that tourism-related businesses and the Indonesian government have been working to ensure safe travel and holiday amid the pandemic.

Last year, Australian travelers made up the highest number of foreign tourists visiting Bali, with one data set showing about 1.23 million Australians arriving through Ngurah Rai International Airport in 2019. Sure, our neighbors from the land down under have contributed immensely to Bali’s economy over the years, but foreign tourists are merely one part of Bali’s story during the pandemic.

Just yesterday, crowds made up mostly of Indonesians were sighted on Bali’s beaches. There’s that five-day long weekend last month, when thousands of domestic tourists visited the island and brought with them some familiar scenes of crowds and traffic jams in Bali’s top tourist attractions. (We’re concerned about how these could worsen the public health crisis, but these very recent instances should be more than enough to show the other side of those empty streets).

Bali’s deeply-battered tourism industry is breaking our hearts, too, but we’re also inspired by the resilience among Balinese people, such as those who returned to their traditional farming roots to survive the pandemic.

“After eight months of the pandemic, Bali is not staying silent or giving up,” Gus Dark, a Balinese illustrator, told Coconuts.

“Bali that is alive and adjusting with the situation cannot be seen from reports on Kuta and tourist attractions […] Right now, Bali is shaping itself into something better. What doesn’t kill you will make you stronger. Entrepreneurship and modern farming will be an answer to Bali’s future.” (Coconuts.co 16/11/2020)


Bali officials voice concerns over deliberations on alcohol ban

With conservative lawmakers in Indonesia this week making another push to ban alcohol with a controversial bill, some are arguing against the potential harm of such a law, especially in a popular tourist destination like Bali.

According to AA Ngurah Adi Ardhana, who is a member of the Regional Legislative Council (DPRD) in Bali, the studies from which the bill is based on are “too shallow.”

“If we are to take a look at the bill it doesn’t look at the practices on the field and merely took into account the wishes of a select few, so it is very unfair to members of the public who are traditionally and culturally accepting of alcoholic beverages, which is also something guaranteed by the 1945 Constitution,” Ngurah said.

Twenty-one lawmakers from staunchly conservative Islamic parties, the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) and National Development Party (PPP), as well as one from Gerindra Party, re-initiated their argument at the House Legislation Body (Baleg) to have the Bill on the Prohibition of Alcoholic Drinks (RUU Larangan Minol) passed into law. The bill has stalled in parliament ever since it was initiated by the same group in 2015.

Ngurah’s remark makes note of Indonesia’s official recognition of six religions, five of which ⁠— including Hinduism, the majority religion in Bali province ⁠— do not explicitly forbid alcohol consumption.

Many have voiced concerns over the potential passing of such a bill, which would have a disastrous impact on the whole country in terms of the economy, tourism, and public health. A draft of the bill says those caught consuming alcoholic beverages may be imprisoned between three months and two years.

Nyoman Sugawa Korry, Deputy Chairman of DPRD Bali, said the bill could negatively impact businesses and increase unemployment.

“With Bali as a tourist destination, the need and consumption of alcoholic beverages are not something you can avoid. The bill must not inflict harm on regions that are dependent on tourism,” Sugawa said.

It’s no secret that tourists visiting Bali love to get their drink on, and it’s worth noting that it was only earlier this year that Bali’s own traditional liquor called arak was legalized. Bali Governor Wayan Koster envisioned the arak legalization as a first step towards making it a great contributor to the regional economy.

While there’s still a long way to go on discussions of the bill, as noted by Baleg Deputy Chairman Willy Aditya, it’s in parliament’s list of priority bills in 2020 and may make the same list next year. (Coconuts.co 16/11/2020)


Bali governor urges Garuda airlines to lower prices

Bali Governor, I Wayan Koster has urged the Director of Garuda Indonesia to reduce its ticket prices for flights to Bali.

Koster also asked the Indonesian Minister of Small and Medium Business, Teten Masduki to initiate a travel campaign to show the people that traveling by airplane is now safe.

“It would be a lot better if they give people a better price for the ticket, because I’ve seen huge difference. Especially with the business class, previously it cost around USD $572 (IDR 8 million) for a round trip ticket from Jakarta to Denpasar, but now it costs around USD $1,071 (IDR 15 million)” Koster said during a Cash Assistance Event on Saturday Nov 14th 2020.

Koster said that he has already contacted the Director of Garuda Indonesia and that he used to be a college friend.

He explained to the Director that Bali is welcoming domestic tourists back as the Covid-19 cases in Bali have significantly dropped through strict health and safety protocols with an over 92% of recovery rate.

He said that Garuda Indonesia can help support a further recovery of the Bali economy.

Bali has been welcoming back domestic tourists since July 31st 2020, but Koster was disappointed that the island hasn’t seen a significant number of visitors.

“We broke a record for tourist arrivals [during the pandemic] in October after months of zero visitors. Especially on the last week of October, thousands of people arrived in Bali each day by air” Koster said.

He added that most of the Bali tourism economy hasn’t recovered and won’t until Indonesia starts allowing international tourists. (Thebalisun.com 17/11/2020)