Thousands of Chinese tourists are at risk of being stranded in Bali following the Indonesian government's decision to halt flights to and from mainland China starting on Wednesday at midnight.
Most of them, however, are hoping to get a visa extension as the Wuhan coronavirus continues to spread back home.
"Most are worried to go back home for fear of getting infected with the coronavirus," said Elsye Deliana, chairman of Bali Liang, a member of the Association of the Indonesian Tours and Travel Agencies (Asita) that handles the Chinese market.
Elsye said many of those Chinese tourists had requested a special policy from the Indonesian government to allow them to stay longer in Indonesia.
Chinese Consul General in Denpasar Guo Haodong said China respects Indonesia's decision to temporarily stop flights as an attempt to prevent the virus from coming into the country. He added, however, that around 5,000 people were at risk of being stranded in Bali as a result.
Although they could leave Bali by catching flights via Indonesia's neighboring countries, Guo admitted that some of the tourists hoped they could stay in Bali.
“Because of the outbreak in China, some of them don't want to return and they are hoping to stay in Bali,” said Guo.
Guo went on to say that the tourists could only stay for a maximum of 30 days on a visa-on-arrival. The tourists are also aware that they must obey immigration regulations if they wish to stay for more than 30 days.
“We have coordinated with the Bali government to facilitate Chinese [people] who are willing to stay longer in Bali,” he emphasized.
Guo ensured that all the Chinese tourists in Bali were healthy.
“So far, they seem fine and well. None of them are showing symptoms of the coronavirus.”
Bali Tourism Agency head Putu Astawa said the Bali administration would help Chinese tourists who were willing to extend their visas in Bali.
“We've coordinated with the immigration office. They said they could extend the tourist visas, as long as there is a recommendation from the Bali administration,” Astawa said.
The Tourism Ministry's promotion director for the Chinese market, Vinsensius Jemadu, said the government would help facilitate the needs of Chinese tourists in Bali.
"This is a case of force majeure. I think we need to help them as long as they can fulfill all of the requirements," he said after attending a meeting with tourism players in Bali on Tuesday.