Jakarta – The Bali Tourism Agency organized a mass prayer on Friday amid a fast-spreading coronavirus outbreak originating from China, which has taken a toll on the famous resort island's tourism industry.
Officials from the agency alongside those working in the tourism sector held the prayer on Friday morning at Pura Candi Narmada, a Hindu temple in Kuta, Badung regency.
Bali Tourism Agency head Putu Astawa said that the group prayed together to ask that Bali remain safe from the coronavirus outbreak, which as of Friday had killed 213 in China and infected nearly 10,000 globally.
"We hope it [the virus outbreak] will be over soon. We are truly aware that the tourism industry is the backbone of Bali's economy," Astawa said after the prayer.
Elsye Deliana from Bali Liang, a marketing division for China at the Bali chapter of the Association of Indonesian Tour and Travel Agencies (ASITA), concurred that the new virus outbreak had severely affected the tourism industry.
According to agency data, at least 15,000 Chinese tourists have had their trips to the island canceled amid fears of the virus.
A number of Chinese tourist groups, each consisting of 1,000 to 2,000 people, had planned to visit Bali in February, but their trips had been canceled indefinitely.
"We who work in the [tourism] industry have suffered losses [due to the outbreak]," she acknowledged.
Fears of the novel coronavirus previously led the Bali Tourism Agency to cancel the Bali Kintamani Festival, originally scheduled for Feb. 8. The agency will try to reschedule the event to sometime this year after fears about the virus have ebbed.
The Chinese government has implemented anticipatory measures to contain the virus, including limiting flights to and from the country, which has affected Chinese tourist arrivals in Bali.
According to Statistics Indonesia, Chinese tourists account for the second highest number of foreign tourist visits to Indonesia, after Malaysia. About 1.9 million Chinese tourists visited the archipelago from January to November 2019. (dpk)