Bali sees US$9 billion loss as tourism decline amid COVID-19 pandemic

File photo taken at Goa Gajah in Ubud, Bali. Photo: Coconuts Media
File photo taken at Goa Gajah in Ubud, Bali. Photo: Coconuts Media

Tourism players say Bali stands to lose US$9 billion as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the recorded decline of foreign tourist arrivals nears 100 percent this month, potentially making the island one of the hardest-hit regions in Indonesia. 

“The potential losses for 2020 is approximately US$9 billion,” said Ida Bagus Agung Partha Adnyana, chairman of the Indonesian Tourist Industry Association (GIPI), as quoted by CNN Indonesia.

Foreign tourist arrivals in Bali have been declining since February, with the latest data from GIPI suggesting that it was down 93.24 percent as of April 13. 

Indonesia started suspending all foreign arrivals, barring a few exceptions, on April 2, as officials across the globe embrace increasing travel restrictions in the strategy to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Bali Vice Governor Tjokorda Oka Artha Ardana Sukawati, or Cok Ace, said the province is one of the hardest-hit regions in Indonesia. 

“As a result of COVID-19, of all provinces in Indonesia, Bali is the most affected. More than 60 percent of our income depended on tourism. Not one person in Bali is without a link to tourism,” Cok Ace was quoted as saying. 

He added that other sectors, including agriculture, are severely impacted by the decline in tourism. The temporary closure of hotels on the island, for example, meant that many farmers are dealing with oversupply. 

The island has weathered through various upheavals throughout the years, including the Mount Agung eruption in 2017 and the Bali bombings in 2002 and 2005. However, despite tourist arrivals having also been impacted by the bombings, for example, Cok Ace said the economy was not as affected as it is now.

“The informal sectors were still running. Now it’s different,” he explained, as quoted by Kompas.

As of last week, more than 55,000 formal workers in Bali have been furloughed and around 1,300 were laid off, with officials expecting the number to continue rising. Meanwhile, official data suggest that over 17,000 informal workers, including craftsmen and market sellers, have also been affected by the pandemic. 

The province has so far confirmed 186 cases of COVID-19, including 75 recoveries and four deaths. Officials on the island have yet to implement the central government’s Large-Scale Social Restrictions (PSBB) protocol, which is essentially a partial lockdown, citing the perceived lack of local transmission here as a reason not to do so.

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