Image: Almost empty Ubud streets. Credit: FB Ken Yeh.

Flight bans to and from China by the Indonesian Government starting February 5, 2020, have caused the number of Chinese tourists arriving to Bali to drop drastically. According to Bali Provincial Law and Human Rights Ministry data, Chinese tourist arrivals during February only reached 4,314. The decrease was also followed by lackluster tourist arrivals from other countries too.

The Head of the Bali Provincial Law and Human Rights Ministry, Sutrisno, said that the total number of foreign tourist arrivals in Bali during February reached 392,824. That was a decrease of 197,445 from January arrivals which reached 590,269, and when the number of Chinese tourists who visited Bali was still at around 113 thousand.

“The decline was not only caused by Chinese tourists. The number of tourist arrivals from other countries has also dropped,” Sutrisno told nusabali.com on Tuesday. The decline was caused by several factors, such as the flight ban to and from China and several other regions which were impacted by the Corona virus.

“The decline was mainly caused by several flight bans to and from several regions, and plus the regulation doesn’t mention clearly when the flight ban will be revoked,” Sutrisno added.

When asked about the monitoring process by immigration officers at the arrival terminal of Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport, Sutrisno explained that it is being carried out based on the procedure in Law and Human Rights Ministry Regulation no. 7. “Currently, there are 150 officers who check for visit visas from China every day and free visas and visas on arrival facilities have been closed,” Sutrisno concluded.

Meanwhile, the effect of the decline of tourist numbers was noted by Bali Post, in the streets of Ubud, which are usually crowded, seemed to be quiet on Tuesday. When asked about the present condition, the Head of the Gianyar Tourism Board, Anak Agung Gede Putrawan, explained with a few more stats that tourist visits in January 2019 reached 102,040. There was an increase in January 2020, where there were 116,452 tourist visits.

“If we observe the data of January this year compared to January last year, we can see that the visits actually increased,” he said to balipost.com. However, tourist visits during February 2020 only reached 92,207 or dropped 24,245 if compared with January 2020 data.

“Tourist visits dropped around 10 thousand if compared with February 2019,” he added. His side predicted that the decline will continue in March. “We don’t know for March. We predict that the decline will continue until everything is back to normal,” he explained.

The prediction was based on the assumption that foreign tourists will obey the travel advisories that are being issued by their governments and they prefer to stay at home now than traveling abroad. “If they want to travel, it can be postponed, but if they are sick, they must be treated immediately,” he concluded. He also predicted that domestic tourist arrivals won’t help much, because the Indonesian government has advised people to avoid crowded areas, and tourism destinations are definitely included in that.

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