Ida Bagus Prawira sits in front of a monument at the I Gusti Ngurah Rai Airport in Denpasar, Bali on Oct. 19, 2020. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)

Bali Tourism Struggles to Survive during Pandemic

BY :YUDHA BASKORO

OCTOBER 27, 2020

Bali is among the hardest hit by the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, which has put global travels to a halt since March. Indonesia’s most popular tourism destination, globally famous for its preserved culture and home to beautiful beaches and ancient temples amid a myriad of hype night clubs, is ranked in the bottom of 34 provinces after its economy shrank by 10.8 percent in the second quarter. The tourism sector accounts for around 80 percent of the province’s revenue sources and almost all of its labor force work in the business.  The impact of the pandemic is more devastating in Bali than in any other area in the archipelago.

Since April, foreign tourists have left Bali. Hotel occupancy rate in August hit a new low at only 3.68%, in comparison to 67% in the same month last year. The economic impact is felt not only by hotel owners or resort managers, but also their employees and those working in supply chains of the business. They all must quickly adapt to the new condition and fight together to survive.

Ida Bagus Prawira, who teaches tourism, had to find a part-time job as tour guide to support his family. 

"I don't care if it is only three to six tourists coming to Bali, I will definitely serve them. As long as I can eat for today, I am really grateful," Prawira said.

I Wayan Tana, a farmer and owner of Malini Agro Park in Uluwatu, no longer grows fresh vegetables due to falling demand. Foreign tourists no longer come to Bali due to global travel restrictions so currently his agro park is forced to only plant cassava for his own consumption. As a businessman, he has laid off dozens of employees, leaving only five people.

Bali's well-known tourism destinations like Pura Luhur Uluwatu and Tanjong Benoa water sports have also experienced a significant decrease in the number of visitors. The colossal Kecak dance which usually involves around 60-100 dancers and earns up to Rp 6 billion per month at Pura Luhur Uluwatu cannot be performed anymore due to a lack of audience. 

Water sport activities in Tanjong Benoa have been suspended due to regulations on the use of scuba diving and snorkeling equipment because they are related to respiratory tract. For now, water sport equipment shops cannot rent their equipment even though Bali offers wonderful diving spots in calm bays, rich with coral gardens and colorful marine biodiversity. 

"We hope the government gives acknowledgement that Bali remains disciplined in implementing health protocols so that (economic) conditions can return to normal," Ayu Krisna Dewi, the manager of water sport equipment rental services in Tanjong Benoa, told the Jakarta Globe.

Villa Amarteraa Villas Bali Nusa Dua laid off contract workers because there were no guests which resulted in financial problems for the hotel managers. Currently, the luxury hotel has to cut all expenses on dining services and digital TV services to survive.

World-class surf spots like Kuta, Seminyak and Jimbaran -- where many of the island’s finest hotels and villas are located -- also look deserted without visitors. Muaya Beach, famous for seafood and barbeque parties, is barely empty with just a grilled corn trader around.

Prawira, the tour guide, speculated that Bali is now reincarnating into another level according to his religious belief. 

"We want tourism business in Bali to reincarnate, or be reborn as in the principle in Hinduism," he said. 
The current condition prompted the provincial government to adopt new tourism regulations more related to health protocols, while tour operators duly follow the guidelines. But they need support from investors to invest in Bali for post-pandemic economic activities. 

"Even now, the Pecalang (Balinese traditional guards who usually maintain village security during religious and customary ceremonies) also maintains the implementation of health protocols in tourism destination such as beaches and temples," Prawira added.
 
The Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry is helping dive and water sports operators in implementing health protocols in this specific sector and providing them with certificate of compliance after an audit. The certification is an effort to regain confidence of international divers when global restrictions are lifted.

Garuda Indonesia continues the Bali flights and claims all aircraft have been equipped with the high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) technology which assures clean air circulation and kills 99 percent of bacteria inside the aircraft. 

While Bali is the 11th province with most Covid-19 cases nationally, daily numbers are trending down and the total number of active cases stands at just around 800.

A man put his bag on a compartment during flight with Garuda Indonesia in Bali on Wednesday (21/10). (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
A man puts his bag on a compartment during a flight with Garuda Indonesia heading for Bali on Oct. 21, 2020. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
A couple walk near Hanoman statue in I Gusti Ngurah Rai airport in Bali on Monday (19/10). (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
A couple walk near a Hanoman statue at the I Gusti Ngurah Rai Airport in Denpasar, Bali on Oct. 19, 2020. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Balinese residents come to Pura Luhur Uluwatu as they want to pray in Bali on Tuesday (20/10). (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Balinese carry offerings for the spirits as they arrive at Luhur Uluwatu Temple for a prayer on Oct. 20. 2020. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
A woman wearing protective gear stands outside Pura Luhur Uluwatu in Bali on Tuesday (20/10). (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
A woman wearing a face shield stands outside Luhur Uluwatu Temple in Bali. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
A man stands in new physical distancing sign at Pura Luhur Uluwatu in Bali on Tuesday (20/10). (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
A man stands on a pavement that has physical distancing signs at Luhur Uluwatu Temple in Bali. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
A safety guard stands in the middle of empty ampitheatre inside Pura Luhur Uluwatu in Bali on Tuesday (20/10). (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
A safety guard stands in the middle of empty amphitheatre inside Luhur Uluwatu Temple. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
I Wayan Tana, 43, stands inside his house of glass in Malini Agro Park, Uluwatu Bali on Monday (19/10). (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
I Wayan Tana, 54, checks his plants inside his greenhouse in Malini Agro Park, Uluwatu, Bali. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Two restaurant owners in Bali serve food for their customers all by themselves on Tuesday (20/10). (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Two restaurant owners in Bali serve food for their customers all by themselves. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
A hotel staff cleans a water pool inside Amarterra Villas Bali in Nusa Dua on Wednesday (21/10). (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
A hotel staff cleans the swimming pool inside Amarterra Villas Bali in Nusa Dua. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
A man cleans a sea walker helmet in BMR Dive & Watersport in Tanjung Benoa, Bali on Tuesday (20/10). BMR Dive & Watersport has passed the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy (Kemenparekraf) CHSE-based health protocol certification (clean, healty, safety, environment). (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
An employ of BMR Dive & Watersport cleans a sea walker helmet in Tanjung Benoa, Bali on Oct. 20, 2020. BMR Dive & Watersport has passed the Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry health protocol certification. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Lalu Wardana, 53, the last grilled corn seller in Muaya Beach, Jimbaran, Bali on Tuesday (20/10). (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Lalu Wardana, 53, grills corns on his cart at Muaya Beach, Jimbaran, Bali on Oct. 20, 2020. He was the only seller appearing at the beach in the day. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
The empty beach bed at Tanjong Beno, Bali on Tuesday (20/10). (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Empty beach beds are seen at Tanjong Benoa, Bali on Oct. 20, 2020. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
A pink flamingo pool float stranded on the pool in a beach club near Melasti Beach in Bali, on Monday (19/10). (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
An inflatable pink flamingo pool float is rested on the pool near Melasti Beach in Bali. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Made Suka Arjana, 45, a pecalang in Melasti Beach, stand on guard while maintaining health protocol guideline on the beach on Monday (19/10). (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Made Suka Arjana, 45, a pecalang in Melasti Beach, stands on guard to ensure that visitors observe the health protocols. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Local tourists enjoying Melasti Beach in Ungasan Bali when the sea waters had receded on Monday (19/10). (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)

Local tourists enjoy seaside views at Melasti Beach in Ungasan Bali when the sea water recedes on Oct. 19, 2020. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)

 

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