As the G20 Summit officially begins today in Nusa Dua in Bali, world leaders and their delegations are busy with meetings and press calls. Geopolitical tensions leading into the event have been high, from the war in Ukraine to disputes from the US over China’s impact on Taiwan and a looming global recession. Yet, dialogue across the board has been largely positive.
As world leaders arrived at Nusa Dua’s Apurva Kempinski Hotel, there were smiles all around. The positive first impressions and smooth operation will undoubtedly do wonders for Bali’s tourism sectors will cheerful endorsements like that of US President Joe Biden. Though the 79-year-old is nursing a croaky throat, during his first meeting with President Joko Widodo, Biden appeared cheerful and happy to be on the Island of the Gods.
During their brief introduction, Joe Biden could be heard telling Jokowi, “I don’t think I’m going home.” A positive endorsement indeed from POTUS. During a Monday evening press conference, Biden joyfully opened with “Welcome to Bali.” The Island is certainly proving to be a popular decision with media and delegations who have had to travel to a rather off-the-beaten-path destination compared to the usual city-based destinations of major political conferences.
Though, it has not gone unnoticed that some are struggling in the heat. He joked with journalists at the end of the press conference and said, “I guess all of you are going swimming from here… It’s not far”.
The island vibes are working wonders and even having a positive impact on the often stern-postured Xi Jinping. During a meeting with Joe Biden on Monday, the US and Chinese Presidents could be seen smiling and shaking hands, with no sense that the situation regarding Taiwan would escalate.
The G20 has been a focal point for politicians in Indonesia since the reopening of borders in February. Though Bali is set to smash tourism targets by the end of the year, there is still a long way to go to reach pre-pandemic levels of tourism. Bali Governor Wayan Koster, Tourism Minster Sanidaga Uno, and Minister for Transport Budi Karya Sumadi have all been clear that the future of tourism in Indonesia is near dependant on a positive G20 Summit.
So far, so good for Bali, as the island is hitting the front pages of newspapers worldwide. Not only is the positive press showcasing Bali as a safe and accessible tourism destination but also as a destination for major international events, another key priority for the Ministry of Tourism.
Though, there have been some hiccups along the way. Officials in Bali have acted swiftly to eliminate any potential protestors, including arresting a woman from West Java yesterday afternoon. Police and Pecalang arrested a woman with the initials KR in Simpang Peminge in South Kuta after she attempted to unfurl a banner reading ‘Stop War Human Rights Peace’ as Joe Biden’s motorcade drove past.
The security teams immediately apprehended KR. Local reporters suggested that she was apologetic and didn’t want to cause a scene or protest, simply holding up the sign with a simple message. Nevertheless, she was arrested and interrogated, though local officials have not released any further information.
As G20 activities continue in Nusa Dua, the impact on traffic is starting to frustrate local drivers. Traffic police and regional security have put massive new traffic changes in place, including a lengthy diversion to the airport and an odd-even congestion management system. Traffic jams have been piling up in and around Nusa Dua, as many drivers are parking illegally as road changes make it hard to park.
As reported by local newspapers, the main problem point is Jalan Siligita Utara in Nusa Dua. G20-related road closures and illegal parking triggered congestion on the hard shoulder. A tow truck has now been moved onto the road, and traffic officials will remove vehicles parked illegally.
The Head of the Badung Regency Transportation Service, AA Ngurah Rai Yuda Dharma, told reporters the issue comes under the jurisdiction of the police. However, the Head of the Denpasar Traffic Police, Kompol Ni Putu Utariani, did not confirm the traffic jam on Jalan Siligita Utara, nor did he reply to messages sent by local reporters at the time of writing.
G20-related traffic changes are in place until 18th November. You can read about the planned route changes here.
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