Indonesia cruise players raise concern over conflicting port regulations

With cruise calls at Surabaya and Semarang rejected while Jakarta and Bali were accepted, Indonesian cruise-related players expressed concern with the inconsistency of the application of port policies by the Indonesian port authorities.

The issue was brought up during the Indonesia Inbound Tour Operator Association (IINTOA) meeting with the cruise-related stakeholders in Jakarta recently.

Jongki: cruise operators would lose confidence in Indonesia and create a loss for the overall cruise industry in the country

On November 17, the Viking Orion made a call on Jakarta with three suspected and quarantined passengers on board. Next, the ship tried to enter Semarang on November 18, but local port authority declined its entry and so did Surabaya’s port authority.

The ship then sailed directly to Bali where she spent three nights on the island instead of its original one night.

Similarly, the MS Regatta – originally scheduled for Semarang and Bali – was rejected because of a couple of quarantined passengers.

Jongki Adiyasa, general secretary of IINTOA, said: “We want certainty. With this cancellation, land operators in the affected cities who have prepared bus rentals, paid restaurants for deposits and (other things in the excursion itineraries) lost the business (because) the suppliers (didn’t) want to return the deposits.”

Jongki was also concerned that with this experience, cruise operators would lose confidence in Indonesia and create a loss for the overall cruise industry in the country.

Pitria Kartikasari, branch manager, Tanjung Wangi Subholding of Pelindo Multi Terminal port operator said: “We received information that (apart from) the Viking Orion and MS Regatta, the National Geographic was also declined entry in Surabaya.”

Pitria explained that for Pelindo, the loss was the revenue from services and the potential non-tax revenue that deposits into the national income, of which the value varies from port to port. For example, in Semarang, it was around 500 million rupiah (US$32,000), not to mention the potential loss from the shore excursions.

Such an issue should not have happened as the Indonesian government already has a regulation in place, whereby all crew and passengers on ships departing from overseas ports have been vaccinated thrice and are in good health. In the event they are tested positive for Covid, the destination port can conduct a health screening, quarantining those unwell and allowing only the healthy passengers to leave the ship.

Related government agencies had agreed in a meeting that the port authorities should use the Covid-19 Task Force Circular No. 25 of 2022 on Healths Protocols for International Travels as the first reference to avoid inconsistent policies between ports in the country.

Itok Parikesit, coordinator of product and promotion of nature tourism of Indonesia at the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy, shared that it was also agreed that “the first port of entry (becomes) the reference for the next”, meaning that if the first port allows the ship to dock even with a Covid case, “the subsequent ports should also approve”.

Passengers in close contact with those quarantined are also advised to take the antigen test and receive clearance from the cruise doctor before leaving the ship for excursions.

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