The Deputy-Chairman of the Bali branch of The Indonesian Hotel General Manager Association (IHGMA-Bali), I Made Ramia, said that new provincial rules in Bali requiring PCR Swab Tests for all passengers arriving by air through 04 January 2021 is having an immediate effect on hotel bookings over the coming holiday period.
Kompas.com quoted Ramia, who said on Wednesday, 16 December 2020, “This is a burden for intending tourists to Bali who have already booked accommodation or transportation.”
Ramia added, “Yesterday when we received the circular memorandum (of the Governor), we experienced many cancellations from tourists holding bookings. “
The IHGMA-Bali Chairman said the total number of booking cancellations was still being calculated.
Most of the cancellations involve bookings made for between 20 December 2020 and 05 January 2021, when Christmas and New Year’s are celebrated.
According to Ramia, one of the reasons cited by many tourists for canceling their Bali holiday bookings is increased costs caused by the new testing requirements. He cited one example where a family of five calculated that swab tests’ costs would amount to a cost of around Rp. 900,000 per person or Rp. 4.5 million.
Ramia said the sudden requirement for Swab tests for all visitors nullified efforts on several fronts by the Provincial Government of Bali to promote tourism. These “now-failed promotional efforts” include: We Love Bali; Bali Bangkit; Kembali ke Bali; and the cleanliness, health, safety, and environmental protocols.
The IHGMA-Bali chairman said the new swab test requirement introduced by the Governor left many feeling that the tourism promotion campaigns that preceded it were a waste of time. What’s more, Ramia said many tourists planning to come to Bali will now cancel their planned trips because of the new regulation.
Although openly disappointed by the canceled bookings caused by the sudden imposition of new testing rules for Bali’s airport, Ramia insists he remains supportive of policies implemented by the Province of Bali to control and mitigate the impact of COVID-19. Ramia said IHGMA-Bali has no issue with and agrees with the Governor’s decision to outlaw Christmas and New Years’ gatherings as a means to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Ramia commented that the policy on requiring PCR Swab Tests would perhaps be more appropriate if applied only to foreign visitors to Bali, with domestic visitors only required to undergo Rapid Tests. In his view, widespread rapid testing is effective in controlling COVID-19 in combination with strict health protocols and affordable.
New Rules Linked to Rp. 1.28 Trillion in Cancelled Bookings
Following the sudden publication of the Governor’s edict that all people arriving in Bali by air between 18 December 2020 and 04 January 2021 must have a valid “negative” PCR Test., The Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI) estimates 133,000 air tickets to Bali with a value Rp. 137 billion have been canceled for a full refund as a result of the change.
The chairman of PHRI, Hariyadi Sukamdani, blamed the avalanche of ticket refunds on the imposition of the new rule requiring air passengers arriving in Bali to present PCR Swab Tests Results (polymerase chain reaction). Meanwhile, domestic travelers arriving by land and sea need only show a “negative” result for the rapid antigen test.
Sukamdani told CNN on Wednesday, 16 December 2020: “Data collected until last night (15 December), 133 thousand passengers – a number ten times higher than normal, have asked for ticket refunds. Large online Travel Agents (OTA) calculate the value of the refund requests at Rp. 317 billion.”
The PHRI Chairman said the cancellations would have a negative impact not only on travel operators but also on Bali’s economy. The cost of these canceled trips is calculated to have cost Bali’s tourism industry Rp. 967 billion. Combined with canceled airline tickets’ calculations, the sudden policy change caused lost sales of more than Rp. 1.28 trillion – a number expected to grow.
Hariyadi said that the PHRI fully supports the government’s steps to break the chain of contagion for COVID-19. At the same time, he hopes the government will always consider beforehand the economic effects of changes in travel rules and regulations. He added that the recent change in requirements for a swab and rapid tests should have ideally been discussed with the travel industry before its publication in order anticipatory steps could be put in place.