The provincial government in Bali has postponed this year’s edition of the Bali Kintamani Festival and has requested that hotels on the island waive the cancelation fee for Chinese tourists, following the deadly outbreak of a novel coronavirus in Wuhan, China.
In a statement issued yesterday, Vice Governor Tjokorda Oka Artha Ardana Sukawati said the festival will be postponed until the situation improves. The festival was initially planned for Feb. 8.
With travels to and from Wuhan and Hebei Province in China officially restricted, the government appealed for tourism operators on the island to be more considerate of the circumstances affecting Chinese travelers.
“As we are aware, this coronavirus from China is an unpredictable condition (force majeure), [we] request hotels and accommodations in Bali waive cancellation fees for Chinese tour agencies or tourists who cancel their trips because of the disease,” the statement reads.
In addition, the government suggested that local travel agencies handling Chinese tourists should allow visitors who have given their down payments to use it for a later date, should they decide to postpone their visit to Bali.
Chinese tourists were the second-largest group passing through Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport last year, with nearly 1.2 million visitors.
Following the island’s first scare of the contagious virus last week, the provincial government also instructed all hospitals in Bali to coordinate with the Health Agency before making statements on patients with a fever as a symptom in order “to avoid conflicting information,” which they fear may hurt Bali’s tourism.
The virus has yet to be detected in Indonesia, though it has notably spread to at least 13 other countries outside of China. The Indonesian government has so far urged the public to remain vigilant, while President Joko Widodo ordered health officials to monitor developments of the Wuhan virus closely.
In China, the virus has now infected more than 4,000 and killed 106. Though there are concerns of human-to-human transmission, Tourism Minister Wishnutama Kusubandio yesterday said there are no plans to further restrict tourists from China yet. Precautionary steps in the country have included activation of thermal scanners across entry points and assignment of hospitals to specifically treat possible coronavirus patients — with Sanglah General Hospital, Tabanan General Hospital and Sanjiwani Gianyar Hospital being the hospitals assigned in Bali.
“No countries have banned [Chinese tourists], so why should we?” Wishnutama said, as quoted by Kontan.