Tourists cancel Bali trips after PCR tests became mandatory for domestic flights: hotel association

The process of a swab test for illustration purpose only. Photo: Unsplash
The process of a swab test for illustration purpose only. Photo: Unsplash

Tourism service providers in Bali are lamenting Indonesia’s mandatory PCR tests for air travelers, which they say have led to the cancelation of bookings in recent days. 

I Wayan Kariasa, who heads the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI) chapter in Karangasem regency, said domestic travelers are canceling their hotel bookings in the area after PCR tests, the gold standard for COVID-19 testing, became mandatory for domestic flights as the government seeks to minimize false negatives. 

“People were planning on holidaying in Bali or because of work, but [PCR tests] have turned into an added expense,” Kariasa said. 

Previously, fully-vaccinated Indonesians were allowed to board a plane with a negative result from an antigen test, while the partially-vaccinated must obtain a negative PCR test result. Antigen tests, which cost around IDR100K (US$7.08) each, are about one-fifth of the price of PCR tests.

I Gusti Ngurah Rai Suryawijaya, who heads PHRI in Badung regency, also echoed similar information, noting there were reports of cancelations after the new domestic travel rules were announced.

“In my opinion [requiring] antigen rapid tests still make sense. PCR tests shouldn’t be forced under these conditions. Especially when the visitors have already gotten two vaccine doses,” Suryawijaya said. 

In addition, Kariasa also pointed out that Indonesia’s five-day quarantine requirement for incoming foreign tourists have also led to potential visitors canceling or postponing their trips to Bali. 

While these grievances are reasonable given the impact of the pandemic on Bali’s economy, more than half of which is dependent on tourism, the travel requirements are necessary as the threat of coronavirus transmissions linger. 

Governor Wayan Koster has stood in favor of these requirements, in spite of protests from tourism players, warning against the possibility of a new variant.

“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.

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