US$22 million in ticket refunds requested as new swab test requirement for Bali visitors met with public backlash

A passenger wearing a face mask at Ngurah Rai International Airport. Photo: Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry’s Public Communications Bureau
A passenger wearing a face mask at Ngurah Rai International Airport. Photo: Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry’s Public Communications Bureau

Update Dec. 18: The Bali provincial government has announced a modified version for the new travel requirements, which have been postponed to start tomorrow, Dec. 19, instead of today, Dec. 18. Read the full story here. 

Original story follows below. 


The new requirement for air travelers to present negative PCR test results to fly to Bali has led to a reported mass request for plane ticket refunds, which amounted to IDR317 billion (US$22.4 million) as of yesterday.

Related ⁠— Bali imposes negative PCR test result requirement in time for year-end holiday

The Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI) said that air passengers have requested refunds for about 133,000 flight tickets, citing data from online travel agents. 

“The situation is very dynamic. From yesterday we have received complaints from the public with plans to travel to Bali about the sudden requirement for a PCR test result,” PHRI chairman Hariyadi Sukamdani said yesterday. 

“It’s quite concerning, according to the data that we have gathered [up until Tuesday night], there are refund requests from ticket buyers, as many as 133,000 flight tickets.” 

According to Hariyadi, the trip cancellations could see Bali lose out on IDR997 billion (US$70.7 billion).

Officials announced new travel requirements on Tuesday, along with several prohibitions ahead of the upcoming year-end holiday, as part of an effort to curb coronavirus transmissions on the island.

The sudden decision to require PCR test results from air travelers has created a public backlash against the Bali provincial government, with many placing the blame on Governor Wayan Koster.

The governor defended the new swab test requirement just yesterday, emphasizing that health and safety are the utmost priority.

“The main principle here is that if you’re going to travel then you must prioritize health. Not just for yourself, but for others around you,” Koster said.

Koster added that the new requirements were a joint decision with the central government, with all parties involved committed to protect Bali and avoid a spike in COVID-19 cases.

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CITY: BALICATEGORY: NEWSSUB-CATEGORIES: HEALTH, TRANSPORTATIONTAGS:

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