The trial of changing the crossing route for tourists from the Gilis and Lombok to Bali is causing headaches for fast boat operators, hotels, and tourists.
Visitors who wish to return to Bali from the Gilis, next to Lombok, must first transfer to Bangsal Harbor using the Karya Bahari Cooperative (KKB) public boat at a rate of Rp20,000.
They then can take a fast boat or any other local sea transportation to Bali from Bangsal Harbor. Prior to this policy, tourists could travel directly to Bali from the Gilis by fast boats.
This trial now forbids fast boats to pick up guests from Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno, and Gili Air. However, tourists will still be dropped off directly at the islands after leaving from Bali.
The policy started on Monday 17th October 2022, and since then, North Lombok Regent Djohan Sjamsu hasn’t commented on the continuation of the rules. Meanwhile, the North Lombok Deputy Regent Danny Karter Febrianto said that for the time being, the trial would continue with evaluations ongoing.
“In the near future, we will hold a meeting related to this matter with the provincial government and other related parties. The process is a trial, so of course, there is a time limit,” he said.
Regarding the results of the evaluation to date, Febrianto admitted that there are still some shortcomings related to public boat services and there have been reports of chaos.
“We will examine all the positive and negative impacts and then we will make a decision and hopefully we can fix those in the future,” he said.
Reports suggest fast boat passenger numbers has declined by as much as 30 to 40 percent, according to the General Manager of Golden Queen Fast Boat, Wayan Sudana. Although it is currently low season, the decline in passengers is inseparable from this policy.
“That’s why we don’t agree with this policy and the public should also reject it because roughly speaking, I call this policy ridiculous,” he said.
With the declining number of passengers, the Gilis are set to be not as crowded as before the policy implementation. Now, there are a lot of protests on social media from tourists who are uncomfortable with the policy.
“That’s very unfortunate. It’s not easy to create an image so that people go on vacation to our place and make good comments,” he explained.
Moreover, in the implementation plan, the fast boats are not involved by the North Lombok Regional Government.
“We are the ones who are harmed but we are not invited to negotiate,” said Sudana to Radar Lombok by telephone on Sunday 23rd October.
In line with Sudana, the General Manager of PT Bali Eka Jaya Ketut Sugita said, “We, Eka Jaya, have experienced many cancellations of tourists who want to visit because tourists feel uncomfortable and think their trip has been made complicated.”
If the policy continues, he predicts that passengers will continue to decline. “It will continue to decline because several large tours and travel agents that support us with Bali and Gili Lombok packages will change the program for their guests,” he explained.
Hotel entrepreneurs are also affected. The chairman of the Gili Hotel Association (GHA) Lalu Kusnawan also confirmed that there was a decline in hotel occupancy.
The Deputy Chair of the North Lombok Regional People’s Representative Assembly, Burhan M Nur, said that the local governments must be careful in making decisions to not cause harm. From October and into November and December, it is predicted that tourist visits will increase.
“We are worried that it can make tourists uncomfortable and make them move to other places. Now West Lombok and Central Lombok are being completely cleaned up. Likewise, East Nusa Tenggara currently has many investors there,” he concluded.