Indonesian officials refute Daily Mail report of Bali being a ‘ghost town’ following decline in Chinese visitors

File photo of tourists in Kuta beach. Photo: Coconuts Bali
File photo of tourists in Kuta beach. Photo: Coconuts Bali

Indonesian officials today refuted a report from UK-based tabloid Daily Mail, which claimed that Bali has turned into a “ghost town” following the decline of Chinese visitors, with one official claiming that the report was a hoax. 

“According to the report Bali is likened to a ghost town because there are less tourists [and] that is a hoax,” Chief of the Bali Tourism Agency Putu Astawa said today, as quoted by Kumparan. 

Even Home Affairs Minister Tito Karnavian had a say in the matter. Tito told reporters in Jakarta earlier today that he had just visited the island last week and found that it was still swarming with travelers.

“If you are to say it looks like a ghost town, I don’t think that’s correct. It was crowded, I went to a number of places, such as Denpasar, Sanur, Kuta, it was all crowded,” Tito said, as quoted by Detik

Amid the international outbreak of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), Indonesia began enforcing travel restrictions, including suspending flights going to and coming from China as well as temporarily removing visa-free and visa-on-arrival provisions for Chinese nationals. In addition, the government is also applying visa provision restrictions for travelers of other nationalities who have traveled to China in the last two weeks. 

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The statements from Indonesian officials came after the Daily Mail published a report last Saturday, claiming that Bali has been transformed into a ghost town following the travel restrictions. It seems that the report was based on a Facebook post from an Australian tourist, who claimed that some staff has recently been laid off in the hotel they were staying in.  

With Chinese travelers being one of Bali’s top foreign visitors, the restrictions are undoubtedly creating a ripple effect across the island, though thousands of tourists from China are reportedly still on the island as a result.

Tito noted that hotels frequented by Chinese travelers are indeed less occupied, but said that Bali Governor Wayan Koster has informed him that some travelers who were planning to visit other countries in the region are changing their travel plans to Bali instead. 

“To this day, Bali has not been affected by the coronavirus. So even though there’s a decline in Chinese tourists because of the travel restrictions, there are tourists from other countries changing their plans to visit Bali instead,” Tito said.

Astawa also noted the decline in number of visitors, but said that it was only seen within the Chinese market. 

“Yes there is a decline in the number of tourists, but that’s just for the Chinese market, around 25 to 27 percent, but the other markets are still on schedule, we have not seen any cancellations,” Astawa said. 

Gracia Dea, who works at a hotel in Kuta, told Coconuts Bali that it’s been more quiet in the area recently. 

“It’s not a ghost town exactly, but it is less crowded,” she said.

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