Balinese officials held religious ceremonies across the province last week amid international outbreak of the deadly novel coronavirus, as the deeply spiritual island prays to remain safe from the disease and bracing for its impact on the tourism industry.
On Friday, the Bali Tourism Agency organized a mass prayer in Denpasar, which was attended by those working in the tourism sector.
“We truly hope that this matter will be over soon and the people can return to their activities like usual,” said I Putu Astawa, who heads the agency, as quoted by state news agency Antara.
He noted the importance of tourism to Bali’s economy, and hopes that the coronavirus, which has killed 361 people and infected more than 17,000 others as of Monday morning, will not affect those in Bali.
Meanwhile, the regent of Karangasem also held a religious ceremony last Tuesday, praying for the island’s overall safety, while the regent of Klungkung is reportedly stepping up vigilance in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
A large number of Chinese tourists have reportedly canceled their trips to the Island of the Gods — with the latest estimate being at around 15,000 visitors — according to Elsye Deliana from Bali Liang, a marketing division for China at the Association of Indonesian Tour and Travel Agencies (ASITA) in Bali.
The Indonesian government is set to temporarily ban flights from mainland China and temporarily withdrawing visa-free entry for Chinese nationals into the archipelago beginning Wednesday.
Tourists from China were the second-largest group of foreign travelers passing through Ngurah Rai International Airport last year, numbering in nearly 1.2 million visitors.