In COVID-19, News, Tourism
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Image: Bali Provincial Government.

Bali Governor, Wayan Koster, was quoted in reports over the weekend that he would not rush to open Bali to foreign tourists.

“This is because tourism in Bali requires a thorough study from all parties concerned before opening to foreign tourists. It must be prepared in a conducive and mature manner,” said Governor Koster in a statement released on Saturday (22/8).

Governor Koster emphasized that dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic was according to the directions and policies of the Central Government, TNI / Polri, Prosecutors, the Bali Provincial Government along with Regency / City Governments in Bali, the Traditional Village Assembly, Religious Council, Traditional Village, Village / Sub-district, and all components of society. He stated that they have all been solidly moving and working together so that Bali achieves good results in controlling the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.

These good results are indicated by the control of new positive cases (a cumulative total of 4513 Covid-19 cases), a high cure rate (reaching 3953 people, 87.59%). The number who have died due to Covid-19 in Bali is relatively small (52 people, 1.15%).

“However, the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the economy of Bali has begun to be felt with the paralysis of tourism, a decrease in sales turnover of MSMEs and cooperatives, a decrease in sales of agricultural products and the handicraft industry, which has resulted in a contraction in Bali’s economic growth in the first quarter of -1.14% and in the second quarter of -10.98%,” explained Governor Koster.

2,667 workers in the formal sector of the tourism service business have experienced layoffs and as many as 73,631 people have been dismissed. Therefore, two things must be done simultaneously. First, the handling of Covid-19 is to be carried out as best as possible, considering that until now there is no vaccine or cure for Covid-19. [I thought we had arak, Mr Governor. Ed]

Second, to carry out activities and various efforts in aid of economic recovery. Governor Koster also emphasized that together with the Regents / Mayors in Bali have agreed to carry out productive and safe community activities in a gradual, selective and limited manner by implementing the New Era Life Order protocol.

The governor continued. “The activities of the first and second stages of opening Bali again have been relatively good and successful. There was no great impact on Covid-19 cases, there has been no escalation in new cases, no new clusters. The emergence of new Covid-19 cases can be controlled, the cure rate is higher, and the death rate can also be better controlled,” explained Koster.

The third phase, is planned to carry out activities in a wider scope in the tourism sector, including allowing foreign tourists, starting on September 11, 2020.

Koster emphasized that since it was opened on July 31, 2020, the number of domestic tourists visiting Bali through I Gusti Ngurah Rai Airport has increased greatly. Until August 14, 2020, the number of domestic arrivals had reached around 2,300-2,500 people per day.

With regard to the third phase of the opening plan, the start of tourism activities for foreign tourists, said Koster, will need to be considered carefully. Because the Regulation of the Minister of Law and Human Rights of the Republic of Indonesia Number 11 of 2020 concerning the Temporary Prohibition of Foreigners from Entering the Territory of the Republic of Indonesia is still valid.

“The Indonesian government still enforces a policy that prohibits its citizens from traveling abroad, at least until the end of 2020. In line with that, the Indonesian government has not been able to open the door for foreign tourists to Indonesia until the end of 2020, because Indonesia is still a category red zone. The situation in Indonesia is not yet conducive to allowing foreign tourists to visit Indonesia, including visiting Bali,” he said.

According to Governor Koster, there is not a single country in the world that has implemented a policy to allow its citizens to travel outside their country. [That is not exactly correct as some countries are allowing their citizens to travel, such European and North American countries. Here is a website, Covid Controls that has the latest info on countries open and closed to tourists. Ed] He said countries around the world are imposing very strict activity restriction policies on their citizens because the pandemic is still increasing, threatening the health and safety of their citizens. “For example, Australia, whose citizens travel the most to Bali, is only planning to allow travel in 2021. Likewise, China, Korea, Japan, and other countries in Europe. In principle, the Central Government strongly supports the Bali Provincial Government’s plan to recover tourism by opening the door to foreign tourists visiting Bali. However, it requires caution, and should not be in a hurry,” stated the governor.

According to the governor, this is mainly due to Bali’s position as a main world tourism destination which is highly dependent and has an impact on the trust of the world community in Indonesia, including Bali. In the effort to restore tourism, Bali must not fail because it will have a negative impact on the image of Indonesia, including Bali in the eyes of the world, which could have counter-productive consequences for tourism recovery efforts. “The central government provides directions for the Bali Provincial Government to finalize procedures, systems and infrastructure so that the recovery of Bali tourism can be carried out smoothly and successfully, while still being able to handle the pandemic well,” said the former member of the Indonesian Parliament, Governor Koster.

Finally, in regard to when foreign tourists will be allowed to visit Bali again, according to Governor Koster the decision is very much determined based on an assessment of the development of the situation at home and abroad.

“Therefore, until the end of 2020, the Bali Provincial Government will optimize its efforts to bring domestic tourists to Bali in order to help restore tourism and the economy of Bali,” said Governor Koster.

Meanwhile, Badung government has announced new fines for individuals (100k) and companies (500k) if not following the new normal protocols.

Head of Satpol PP Badung, Suryanegara, said the sanctions in the form of verbal, written, social work, administrative fines, termination or temporary closure of business operators, is an attempt by the government to discipline people to implement health protocols such as using personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks, clean hands regularly, physical distancing, and increase endurance by adopting a clean and healthy lifestyle. [It’s not clear exactly what that last part means and how someone will be fined for it. Ed]

“The obligation to comply with these health protocols is not only imposed on individuals, but also on business operators, managers, organizers, or people in charge of public places and facilities,” said Suryanegara on Sunday (23/8).