Indonesia’s Minister for Tourism and Creative Economies, Sandiaga Uno, has spoken out to quash claims that news of changes to the country’s criminal code has caused travelers to cancel their bookings. Last week Indonesia announced a series of changes to the criminal code that will impact unmarried couples.
Fears were raised that the changes to the law, that state that unmarried couples living together or sharing a bed could be imprisoned if reported by an aggrieved close relative, would impact the freedoms of travelers to Bali and other destinations across Indonesia. It has been confirmed by the Indonesian government that the law change will take three years to come into effect.
From a local government perspective, Bali has confirmed that even when the law change does come into effect that travelers’ right to privacy will be respected across the island.
Speaking to the media, Minister Uno confirmed that there had been no significant drop in bookings or rise in cancellations since the announcement was made last week. He said, “As of Friday night, there were no significant cancellations. I underline that there have been no significant cancellations. From our monitoring at the two main airports, Jakarta and Bali, there has been an increase in foreign tourists arriving,”
Minister Uno also confirmed that he has been in contact with the Australian Ambassador to Indonesia regarding travel guidance. “Regarding the travel warning, we communicated with the Australian Ambassador, and the language has been corrected that this is a new development and will take three years to implement…So that the concerns of both investors and tourists can be clarified and resolved”.
The Tourism Minster shared his assurances that Bali and Indonesia, more broadly, will remain a welcoming destination for international visitors. He said, “We make sure we socialize [communicate] that tourism in Indonesia is safe, comfortable, and fun. We make sure to socialize to travel agents and tour operators that their tours are guaranteed to be safe, comfortable, and we are very welcome“.
Bali Governor, Wayan Koster, has also released statements to calm the fears of the tourism industry. Koster guaranteed “there will be no checking on marital status upon check-in at any tourism accommodation, such as hotels, villas, apartments, guest houses, lodges, and spas”. Like Minister Uno, Governor Koster quashed claims of cancellations as a “hoax” noting that bookings have increased from December 2022 to March 2023.
Other key stakeholders in Bali’s tourism sector have spoken up to share their reassurances with domestic and international tourists. Dr. Yoga Iswara, the Chairman of the Indonesian Hotel General Manager Association in Bali, released a statement to confirm “Hotels are obliged to keep their guest state as confidential as possible. They won’t ask for any personal or sensitive information such as marriage certificates from their guests”.
Amongst the news of the law change came an update from Bali Airport that gives further data to support Mintser Uno and Governor Koster’s statements. The island’s only international airport is preparing to welcome up to 1.5 million passengers over the Christmas and New Year Holidays.
The General Manager of Angkasa Pura I at I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport, Handy Heryudhitiawan, told reporters, “Our target passengers are still counting. But God willing, we are optimistic that in December 2023, it could be between 1.4 million and 1.5 million in one month”.
Late last week, Heryudhitiawan also confirmed that Bali Airport was welcomed over 10 million passengers in the year to date. He explained, “From January to November, we have served 3,790,404 international travelers and 7,087,273 domestic travelers. Overall, there were 10,877,677 passengers…This amount includes the arrival and departure of state guests and the G20 Summit participants who attended on the island of Bali”.
I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport is the second busiest airport in Indonesia. The terminals currently operate 21 domestic flight routes served by 11 airlines. In terms of international routes, the airport serves 24 flight routes to 14 countries, served by 27 airlines.
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