While the number of tourists arriving from abroad is slowly rising back to its pre-pandemic level, the airport is having trouble keeping up with the sudden inflow of travelers to the tourist island.
On Friday, July 29th, travel blogger Sebastian Powell wrote about having to wait up to five hours in immigration lines.
He claims that some people were “close to breakdown” after standing in line for so long. Powell arrived in Bali at 2 p.m. Friday afternoon on Thai Airways from Bangkok.
He also describes how he joined the queue of other international arrivals from around the world, some of whom had entered the arrivals hall as early as 10 a.m. that day.
He also reported seeing thousands of travelers waiting in a “simply enormous” immigration line. Powell shared his confusion about the organizational system for presenting vaccination documents and paying for the visa on arrival.
Those entering Bali on a KITAS, KITAP or other longer-term visa had to line up at the back of the terminal building, where they were around the bend and out of Powell’s sight.
According to Powell, the long lines are due to changes in the Visa on Arrival program, which is now open to more nations than ever before.
As of last week, 75 countries are on the Visa on Arrival list. The long lines Powell observed could be explained by additional border procedures, such as confirming vaccinations.
Even if that were the case, he said he does not believe the Covid-19-related processes that increase wait times have been streamlined.
Even before the outbreak, long lines were not uncommon at the Bali airport. The airport is designed to handle hundreds of thousands of tourists each year, and during the high season the flow of people can lead to longer queues than usual.
Powell offered no viable remedies or additional insight into his experience at Ngurah Rai in his final assessment of the situation.