Menparekraf Ensures Bali’s Readiness to Accept Foreign Tourists October 14th

The government has decided to open Bali to foreign tourists this October 14. The Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy promised the implementation of health protocols without compromise.

The Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy, Sandiaga Salahuddin Uno, specifically discussed Bali’s readiness to welcome foreign tourists back in a regular meeting with the media, Monday (11/10). Sandi assured the public that Bali was ready.

Sandiaga Uno, who was inaugurated as Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy, at the State Palace, Wednesday, December 23, 2020. (Photo: Press Bureau of the Presidential Secretariat)

Sandiaga Uno, who was inaugurated as Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy, at the State Palace, Wednesday, December 23, 2020. (Photo: Press Bureau of the Presidential Secretariat)

“The readiness has entered the final stage, we can say 90 percent. Stay for the certainty of implementation, protocol first end to end CHSE we have to make sure. Second, the country of origin of tourists, and the last form of visa. This is what we are still discussing and we hope that in the near future we can finalize it,” said Sandi.

Terms for Travelers

Meanwhile, the government mentions six countries of origin for tourists who are included in the list, although it is not yet final. They are China, South Korea, Japan, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and New Zealand. Kemenparekaf itself, said Sandi, proposed a number of additional countries on the list, such as Russia, Ukraine and a number of countries in Western Europe.

A number of requirements have been set. Travelers must come from a country that has a low risk of COVID-19. They must have a negative COVID-19 test result with a PCR sample taken a maximum of 3×24 hours before arrival. Tourists must also bring proof of complete vaccinations and have health insurance with a minimum coverage of $100 thousand. They also have to download and install the Pedulilindugi application, which is integrated with several similar applications from tourists’ home countries.

Tourists walk on a beach as the government extends restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19 in Badung, Bali, September 9, 2021. (Photo: Antara/Nyoman Hendra Wibowo via REUTERS)

Tourists walk on a beach as the government extends restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19 in Badung, Bali, September 9, 2021. (Photo: Antara/Nyoman Hendra Wibowo via REUTERS)

There is also a PCR test on arrival. If the result is negative, the tourist is quarantined. If positive and asymptomatic, he must be isolated in an inn. If the traveler is positive and symptomatic, he or she will be quarantined at the nearest health facility.

“Travelers who are positive can do the PCR test again on the fifth day. And if negative, please do outdoor activities. If it is still positive, it is necessary to repeat the quarantine cycle,” said Sandi.

The government has a five-day quarantine plan, although a final decision has yet to be made. This quarantine decision, continued Sansi, was approved and supported by data collected by epidemiologist experts in Indonesia and abroad. The team from the Ministry of Health determined the duration of quarantine, based on the latest developments in data, one of which was related to the incubation period.

“We do not hesitate to act decisively. Compliance with health protocols for incoming foreign tourists is non-negotiable. If there is a violation, we will give steps to take action, and in the end, the tourist will be deported. We will not play around in implementing health protocols,” said Sandi, who also mentioned that there were 35 hotels for quarantine facilities.

Assertiveness is the Key

Tourism observer from the UGM Vocational School, Ghifari Yuristiadi, believes the government’s firm stance in implementing the health protocol rules will bear sweet fruit for the tourism sector.

Gadjah Mada University SV tourism observer and lecturer, Ghifari Yuristiadi.  (Photo: Doc. private)

Gadjah Mada University SV tourism observer and lecturer, Ghifari Yuristiadi. (Photo: Doc. private)

“Actually, for now, because Indonesia’s situation is not yet one hundred percent safe, even with good control, trust will emerge. This means that Bali, which is also a representative of Indonesia, is really careful, not carelessly as long as it opens its tourism sector,” said Ghifari when contacted FLY.

He also considered that the experience during the pandemic should form a new perspective, especially for the government. The tightening that has been implemented will not be immediately removed when the tourism sector is about to open.

Fish swim in a coral reef park in Nusa Dua, Bali, May 28, 2021. (Photo: Nyimas Laula/Reuters)

Fish swim in a coral reef park in Nusa Dua, Bali, May 28, 2021. (Photo: Nyimas Laula/Reuters)

Local community policies in the form of attitudes mindfulness and vigilance, or always remember and be alert seems relevant applied. Tourism, said Ghifari, is an important sector, especially for Bali. But on the other hand, health is also the main thing that should not be ruled out. Potential revenge tourism, or revenge tourism which began to show symptoms, should be watched out for.

As a separate island, Bali is quite advantageous because it makes it easier to supervise tourist activities. Flights and crossings can be monitored more closely. However, the role of all parties still holds the key.

“Tourism managers, the government and tourists must both exercise caution. That’s the principle,” added Ghifari.

Ghifari assessed that the conditions of the countries of origin of tourists who would be allowed to enter were indeed good to be considered. However, the condition of each tourist himself must still be a major concern. The COVID-19 situation in Indonesia is already sloping, but the health condition of tourists must still be a concern. Although Ghifari did not deny it, a number of countries have relaxed policies, such as the abolition of the quarantine process for travellers.

Made Please, Operations Manager of Sangeh Monkey Forest, feeds monkeys with peanuts in Sangeh, Bali, Wednesday, September 1, 2021. (Photo: AP/Firdia Lisnawati)

Made Please, Operations Manager of Sangeh Monkey Forest, feeds monkeys with peanuts in Sangeh, Bali, Wednesday, September 1, 2021. (Photo: AP/Firdia Lisnawati)

On the other hand, Ghifari also views that Bali cannot be positioned as an indicator for other tourist destinations in Indonesia. The readiness of each region remains the main key to determine the policies to be implemented. In general, Bali and Java as population centers are indeed the keys to handling COVID-19. If these two islands cannot be controlled properly, the risk will be accepted by Indonesia in general.

“Bali cannot be a one hundred percent benchmark. But hopefully with the opening of Bali, it will be a lesson in readiness stakeholder tourism in other places. Especially in super-priority destinations, which will certainly be opened as well, in line with the government’s efforts to accelerate the process of economic recovery,” he concluded.

A woman waits for tourists at Puseh Temple, Batuan Village, Gianyar, Bali, February 5, 2020. (Photo: Reuters)

A woman waits for tourists at Puseh Temple, Batuan Village, Gianyar, Bali, February 5, 2020. (Photo: Reuters)

Maximum Preparation

In his official statement, the Director General of Civil Aviation, Ministry of Transportation, Novie Riyanto, explained the readiness of I Gusti Ngurah Rai Airport, Bali.

“Inspectors at each directorate and the Bali Regional IV Airport Authority Office are monitoring the inspection and checking the readiness of facilities at the airport, so that when international flights are opened, everything is well prepared,” he said.

Novie Riyanto ensures that service facilities are available at the international arrival terminal. The facilities include a checkpoint for passengers whose temperature is over 38 degrees Celsius, a place for checking health documents, and 20 booths for taking PCR test samples. There is also an immigration checkpoint, Baggage Handling System, room temperature regulator, customs inspection site and holding area, as a waiting room for PCR swab results. Seating is also spaced according to applicable health protocols.

Australian citizens are checked by security guards upon departure at Ngurah Rai International Airport, Bali, Wednesday, August 18, 2021. (Photo: AP)

Australian citizens are checked by security guards upon departure at Ngurah Rai International Airport, Bali, Wednesday, August 18, 2021. (Photo: AP)

The matter of preparation is indeed a big concern of President Joko Widodo. In a briefing to local governments in Bali, last October 8, Jokowi had a special message regarding this effort.

“We show that we are able to manage, able to control with the management in the field,” he said as quoted from the release of the Presidential Secretariat.

Bali did experience a decline of 97 percent in the number of tourists, and 27 percent in the number of domestic tourists, while the hotel room occupancy rate was below 20 percent during the pandemic.

Jokowi hopes that maximum vaccination efforts will be the key to success. Until October 8, 2021, vaccination in Bali Province has reached 98 percent for the first dose and more than 80 percent for the second dose.

“Essentially, we have to prepare the infrastructure. Health infrastructure. And on October 14 it really opened, really ready. From a vaccination perspective, no there is a problem,” Jokowi added. [ns/ab]

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