Nearly 2,000 tourists flock to Bali after West Nusa Tenggara closes access to Gili Islands
Tourists visiting the Gili Islands in West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) have reportedly made their way to neighboring Bali, following the NTB provincial government’s decision on Sunday to close access to the popular destination from Bali amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to a report from Bali Post, whichcited authorities from the Port of Padang Bai, the number of tourists taking the fast boat from Gili Trawangan almost doubled yesterday, with 1,951 passengers recorded.
NTB declared a state of emergency for the province on Sunday as part of a regional effort to contain the coronavirus outbreak, and decided to close tourist access to the Gili Islands from Bali for at least the next two weeks. The decision came as a preemptive measure, NTB Governor Zulkieflimansyah said, noting that at least one positive case for the coronavirus has been officially recorded in Bali.
“According to a circular issued by the NTB provincial government and the regent of North Lombok, fastboats are prohibited from operating to Gili Trawangan for 14 days, from March 16 to March 30. After that date, the decision will be reevaluated by the local authorities,” Padang Bai Port Authority (KSOP) head Ni Luh Putu Eka Suyasmin, told Tribun.
Over the years, tourists visiting Bali often continue their trips to Lombok by taking a boat via Bali’s Padang Bai, a trip which takes about 75 to 90 minutes.
Regional authorities have said how a miscommunication might have occurred since the declaration, and said that closed access to the Gili Islands only apply for fast boats coming from Bali.
“We are closing fast boat access coming from Bali to the three Gilis temporarily. For tourists who are already on the islands can carry on with their vacation, whoever wants to leave can do it at any time and supply of daily goods are still normal,” said I Gede Putu Aryadi, an official from the NTB government, as quoted by state news agency Antara.