Indonesia extends visas for stranded Chinese tourists; Bali tourism to benefit

Indonesia has decided to allow Chinese tourists stranded in the country to extend their stay for up to a month, as travel to China remains restricted as the country attempts to curtail the spread of Covid-19.

Coordinating economic minister Airlangga Hartanto said that in addition to waiving overstay penalties for Chinese travellers, the government would also set up hotlines for nine ministries, including the Transportation Ministry, Manpower Ministry, Health Ministry and Finance Ministry.

Bali’s tourism sector stands to benefit from visa extensions for Chinese tourists stranded in the country; Ubud Palace in Bali, Indonesia pictured

With no cases of infections in Indonesia, many stranded Chinese travellers have chosen to extend their stays in Bali where they feel safe, according to Elsye Deliana, head of Bali Liang, a member of the Association of the Indonesian Tours and Travel Agencies (ASITA) Bali chapter that handles the Chinese market.

“Most of them are also worried about getting infected with the virus if they go home,” she added.

I Ketut Ardana, managing director of Bali Sunshine and chairman of ASITA Bali Chapter, expressed support for the government’s move, which he expects will contribute to much needed tourism receipts.

Citing Bank Indonesia’s report, he said that each Chinese traveller could spend 9.7 million rupiah (US$710) per visit on average.

Ketut projected that if the travel ban continued until March, Bali could lose 300,000 Chinese travellers, with potential loss of 2.9 trillion rupiah. He added that on the whole, the country could lose 500,000 Chinese tourists, amounting to a loss of 4.8 trillion rupiah.

Sudarsana, general manager of business development with Santika Indonesia Hotel and Resorts, said: “We should welcome them. (Chinese travellers who) extend their stay in Bali can be substitutes for those who cannot come to Bali (due to the travel ban).”

While Bali vice governor Tjokorda Oka Artha Ardhana Sukawati, who is also chairman of Indonesia Hotels and Restaurants Association Bali chapter, has urged his members to offer discounted rates for stranded Chinese travellers extending in Bali, few trade players are doing so.

Sudarsana expressed no intention of altering prices for the Chinese travellers, while Ardana intends to maintain the price of his tour packages.

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