Image: Temperature checks at Denpasar Airport. Credit: telesurenglish.net
Chinese tourists have begun cancelling trips all across the Southeast Asian region with Thailand appearing to be worse hit so far by coronavirus outside of China with eight patients and 39 others quarantined preemptively. Bali has not sustained any confirmed cases of the virus so far, but Chinese tourists are now cancelling trips.
With the outbreak of the corona virus in Wuhan, China, the Chinese government banned all travel to and from the city last Friday in an attempt to curb the spread of the virus. And also have banned tour groups from travelling abroad and domestically.
According to a Bali Asita, Chinese section member, who didn’t want to be named, all travel agents in China have been prohibited to send Chinese citizens abroad, including to Bali. “Starting From January 27 and 28, 2020, there won’t be any Chinese tour groups visiting Bali,” the source said to balipost.com on Sunday.
The source also said that the amount of the cancellations haven’t been calculated yet, but based on past data, the number of Chinese tourists who visit Bali during the period of Chinese New Year increased 2-3 times more than normal. “I am sure that all travel agents in Bali won’t be welcoming any guests starting from January 27,” the source added.
The cancellation issue was confirmed by the Head of Bali Regional Tourism Board (Disparda), I Putu Astawa, who informed the press that the cancellations came from the Wuhan government and not from the Bali government. “There are some cancellations for Chinese tourists who wanted to visit Bali, because the Wuhan government prohibited their citizens to travel abroad,” he said to denpost.id on Monday at Praja Saba, Renon.
Meanwhile, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation of Indonesian Transportation Ministry officially issued a Notice to Airmen (Notam) to ban airlines flying from I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport to Wuhan City, the capital of Hubei Province, China. The ban has been officially applied from January 23 to February 2 and was issued to prevent Corona virus spreading to Indonesia. Flights to the rest of China are continuing as normal.
The Notam officially stated that Wuhan International Airport, China cannot be used as an alternative airport from January 23 at 7pm until February 02 at 11.59pm, except for emergency situations. “The flight ban will apply for the next 9 days,” the Head of Region IV Denpasar Airport Authority (Otban), Elfi Amir said to nusabali.com on Saturday noon. After they received the Notam, Elfi stated that his side identified the airlines that departed from Ngurah Rai Tuban International Airport to Wuhan, China and vice versa.
Lion Air still flew from Ngurah Rai to Wuhan on January 26. However, when returning, the plane did not carry passengers in a ferry flight status,” he explained.
Meanwhile yesterday, the Chairman of the Bali Tourism Board, IB Agung Partha Adnyana told reporters, “We have asked the hotels not to impose a cancelation fee on the Chinese travel agents and tourists, because after all this is a force majeure situation.”
“We have explained that for Chinese travel agents who have already paid a down payment, they can use it for their next visit,” he added.
In sympathy of the situation, the provincial government of Bali has postponed the Bali Kintamani Festival which is planned to be held on February 8th.
“This delay is within an unspecified time limit, but we are trying to run it this year, while waiting for the situation to become clearer,” said Head of Bali Tourism Office Putu Astawa.
Regarding this virus, Astawa admitted of course it would have an impact on the economy of Bali, which depends on the tourism sector.
“The decline in the number of tourist visits will certainly occur following the policies of the Chinese government. However, this is our time for self-introspection as well,” he explained.
Regarding the arrival of tourists from China to Indonesia, Minister of Tourism Wishnutama Kusubandio told the press in Jakarta yesterday that there are no plans to close access to Chinese tourists in the near future.
“There are no bans on Chinese in other countries, there is no travel warning, only an increase in vigilance. But people from Wuhan (the city of origin of the virus) are indeed banned. Specifically, the entire city is banned,” he was quoted in AyoBandung.com.
Wishnutama also emphasized that Indonesia’s tourism does not only depend on Chinese tourist visits. There are still many tourists from other countries who are interested in Indonesia.
“There are many other potential visitors, especially long distance ones like America, Europe. Indonesian tourism is looking for potential from other countries. Our tourism should not depend on one country, that is our strategy, also qualified and quality tourists,” he said.