The Jakarta Post
Chinese tourists wearing facemasks as a preventative measure following a coronavirus outbreak which began in the Chinese city of Wuhan, walk after arriving from Nusa Penida at the fast boat pier in Serangan island in Denpasar, on Indonesia's resort island of Bali on January 26, 2020. (AFP/Sonny Tumbelaka)
The Bali Kintamani Festival, originally scheduled for Feb. 8, has been postponed in the wake of a deadly outbreak of a new coronavirus in Wuhan, China.
In a statement received by The Jakarta Post on Monday, Bali Tourism Agency head Putu Astawa said a new date for the festival had yet been determined, but the agency would try to hold the event this year or after fears over the virus have calmed.
The Chinese government has already implemented anticipatory steps that include limiting flights from and to the country, which has reportedly affected Chinese tourist arrivals in Bali.
“The decrease in tourist visits will surely happen following a new policy from the Chinese government. However, it’s also high time that we examine our own situation, especially regarding tourism-related issues such as environment, waste, traffic congestion and clean water,” Astawa said. “It’s about time that we do something about [these matters].”
He added that efforts should be made to counter negative news regarding Bali’s tourism image.
“Such as news regarding waste; we need to counter that as many tourists, especially from Europe, are very concerned about such issues.”
Astawa also urged the Balinese to pray that the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) could be contained and doctors could quickly develop a successful treatment.
“We must stay healthy to ensure we don’t catch the virus.”
While waiting for the outbreak in China to ease, Astawa pointed out that it was time for Bali to target tourists from other countries.
“We shouldn’t forget about potential markets such as Europe and Australia, which have been greatly contributing to our number of foreign tourist visits every year.”
Read also: Coronavirus outbreak: Curbing public panic
Meanwhile, Bali Tourism Board chairman IB Agung Partha Adnyana said in a statement that hotels shouldn’t charge travel agencies cancellation fees as this was a case of force majeure.
“Tourists who have made down payments through travel agencies should be able to use [the money] for their next visit,” he said.
Regarding concerns over the spread of 2019-nCoV, Bali regional secretary Dewa Made Indra said in a statement, also released on Monday, that the virus had not been detected in Bali.
“Don’t carelessly claim that someone is infected because that requires [a medical diagnosis].”
The administration has already prepared several precautionary steps, such as assigning a number of hospitals to treat coronavirus patients, namely RSUP Sanglah, Sanjiwani Gianyar and Tabanan Hospitals.
“We have tightened monitoring at entrance gates such as airports and seaports,” Dewa said. (kes)
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