Update: Travel blogger Sebastian Powell has been asked to leave Bali after claiming he waited 5 hours in line. Officials say the story was fabricated.
Original Story Now Continues:
Bali is in the middle of its tourism peak season. From June through to the end of September is when the island welcomes the most amount of tourists. As the Island of the Gods hits the middle of the first full peak season since 2019, some tourists are starting to complain about waiting times at Bali Airport.
Travel blogger Sebastian Powell published an article on Friday 29th July sharing his experiences of the arrivals all at Bali’s Ngurah Rai International. The island’s only international airport has targets to welcome 1.5 million international visitors before the end of the year, just a fraction of the over 6 million international tourists stamped into Bali in 2019.
While inbound tourist numbers are slowly increasing back to the pre-pandemic level, and almost certainly won’t hit 2019 figures this year, he claimed the airport is struggling to manage the holiday island’s rapid influx of visitors.
Powell reports how he observed that people had a wait upwards of 5 hours in the immigration hall of Bali airport late last week. He described how it was the ‘worst situation regarding lineups I ever experienced anywhere in the world’ and explained how he’s been travelling frequently by air for nearly two decades.
He describes how some people were allegedly ‘close to breakdown’ after being caught in the queue for so long. Powell arrived in Bali from Bangkok on Thai Airways and arrived at around 2 pm on Friday afternoon. He describes how he walked into the winding queue of fellow international arrivals from all over the world, some of whom had first stepped foot in the arrivals hall at 10 am that same day.
He describes thousands of visitors in a ‘simply massive’ queue for immigration. Powell shared his confusion at the organization system for showing proof of vaccination documents and paying for the visa on arrival.
According to Powell on Friday afternoon, those who were entering Bali on a KITAS, KITAP, or other longer-term visas also had to queue from the back of the terminal building and stretched around the corner and out of Powell’s sight.
In Powell’s opinion, the long queues can be attributed the issues largely to changes in the Visa on Arrival program which is now open to more countries than ever before. As of last week, there are now 75 countries on the visa on arrival list. The queues observed by Powell could be explained by the increased checks required at the border, such as proof of vaccination. He explained how even if that was the case, in his opinion that the Covid-19-related processes that increase wait time weren’t streamlined either.
Queues at Bali Airport are not unheard of, even before the pandemic. The airport is set up to receive hundreds of thousands of visitors every year, and in the peak season, the influx of visitors can lead to longer than usual queues. This is little comfort to holidaymakers, many with young families, who sometimes wait for hours before their vacation can truly begin.
In his closing analysis of the situation Powell didn’t offer any potential solutions or further insights into his experience at Ngurah Rai.
Friday afternoons are typically a high traffic period for Bali Airport as people from across South East Asia hop on a short-haul flight to enjoy the Island of the Gods for the weekend, and when longer-haul international arrivals land for changer-over day at many of Bali’s resorts and hotels.
Travelers are reminded that unexpected queues can occur for any number of reasons and that Covid-19-related checks are increasing wait times at airports all around the world. One possible way to reduce the risk of long queues is to travel outside of peak travel periods where possible.
Plan Your Next Bali Vacation:
Book The Best English Speaking Drivers For Airport Transfers & Tours
Choose From Thousands of Bali Hotels, Resorts, and Hostels with Free Cancellation On Most Properties
For the latest Bali News & Debate Join our Facebook Community
SUBSCRIBE TO NEW POSTS
Enter your email address to subscribe to The Bali Sun’s latest breaking news, straight to your inbox.