Another obstacle has been added to Bali’s race for restarting tourism. Travelers need now to pay for PCR tests each time they want to engage in domestic travel.
The announcement set off alarm bells among the tourism industry leaders as the new requirement has prompted a slew of flight and hotel cancellations in recent days.
“Going to Bali for holidays or work reasons has become a new burden for tourists [because] the cost [is now] five times higher [than what they had to pay] for antigen tests,” said I Wayan Kariasa, the person who leads the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI).
Despite objections from tourism sector representatives, Bali’s governor has publicly endorsed the new PCR requirement, citing the possibility of the spread of new strains.
“I understand that tourism players have been protesting hard [against PCR test requirement], but what the central government has enforced is the best choice that must be made for our collective good. Not just in Bali, but also in Indonesia and the world,” he said.
As per the government, the policy was enacted based on the experiences of European countries, which saw a spike in COVID-19 cases when travel requirements were relaxed.
I Gusti Ngurah Rai Suryawijaya, head of PHRI in Badung, believes that PCR tests shouldn’t be mandatory “under these conditions” but he agrees to continue requiring rapid tests for double-vaccinated visitors.
But this time Balinese people are ready to voice their discomfort with the measure.
As of Oct. 26, more than 40,000 travelers have taken to social media to reject the mandatory PCR through the Change.org platform.
According to the petitioners, thousands of “middle and lower-middle-class people depend on the aviation sector” to make a living.
Efraim Leonard, Change.org campaigner for Indonesia said that every time someone signs the petition it is automatically sent to Bali’s COVID-19 Task Force Prof. Wiku Adisasmito who is registered as a verified policymaker on their platform. And he should accept it.
The petition will continue to be open as far as the Bali government does anything about it or petitioners decided it is enough.