As of the 17th of July, it became compulsory for Indonesian citizens traveling by air to show proof of their Covid-19 booster vaccination. This change in travel regulations has caused confusion and frustration for local travelers, many of whom have had to cancel their bookings for their trips to Bali.
The Bali Tourism Association spoke with local newspapers to confirm that domestic travelers to Bali are canceling their bookings for the next month or so. Many domestic travelers chose to stay at small, locally owned guesthouses. These cancellations have a big impact on local economies.
The spokesperson noted that the change in rules is creating uncertainty for domestic travelers who are also showing a reluctance to get their booster vaccinations.
Last month the Minister for Tourism and Creative Economies set tourism targets for Bali for the rest of the year. He shared that his target for domestic tourists to Bali before the end of 2022 is 7 million people. He announced that the target for international travelers is 1 million.
Although international tourism is a big focus of the island’s economy, it is domestic travelers that make up the majority of visitors to Bali across the year. Losing out on the domestic travel market is a major blow for many local businesses in Bali.
The chairman of the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI) in Karangasem Regency, Wayan Kariasa, told the Bali Tribune News that news of the booster vaccine mandate change for domestic travelers has also had an impact on international bookings.
He said that tourists from all across Indonesia and around the world are canceling their hotel bookings and restaurant reservations. Kariasa said that tourists from France and other parts of Europe had canceled their hotel bookings and that he believed they had made new plans to take vacations in other countries where the travel rules were more clear.
Kariasa said ‘The policy [for booster vaccinations] for the tourism component is an obstacle. Considering that the tourism economy is just emerging. On the other hand, we support increasing immunity, immunity, and protecting Indonesia in general’. He shared how he hoped that the recent rise in cancellations would be short-lived and that bookings would pick back up in the coming days after the initial confusion and panic had died down.
The general consensus among hoteliers in Karangasem Regency is that the new booster vaccination mandate is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, they appreciate the need to keep the caseloads of Covid-19 low and in decline, on the other, the restrictions, last-minute changes, and compulsory nature of the vaccine are understandably off-putting for many domestic travelers.
Karangasem Regency can be found to the east of Bali and is close to popular destinations like Amed and Amlapura. Karangasem Regency is generally visited by more domestic Indonesian travelers than international tourists which is why hotels in the area are feeling the impact of the cancellations so heavily.
Tourism Associations in areas like Badung, where popular tourist beaches like Kuta, Legian, and Seminyak can be found, have not made similar announcements about booking cancellations.
In a bid to help make it easier for domestic travelers to get their booster vaccine the local authorities have opened a booster clinic at the domestic terminal of Ngurah Rai Airport. Some commentators online have expressed concerns about taking a flight so shortly after having a vaccine, but local authorities have confirmed that the process is safe.
It remains the case that international travelers do not need to show proof of a booster vaccination in order to travel by air to Bali, or other areas in Indonesia. Fully vaccinated international travelers must show proof of their vaccination certificate upon arrival and do not need to have a negative PCR test in order to fly.
Local reports have suggested that international arrivals are being temperature screened. It is thought that if an international arrival is flagged by the temperature screening that they will be asked to do a PCR test at the airport, if the result is positive they will be instructed to self-isolate for 5-days.
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