Indonesian Ministers Find Bali’s Airport in Sad Shape

Long visa lines, broken computers, filthy bathrooms and leaky roofs. Such was the situation at Bali’s international airport on Sunday during a snap inspection by two cabinet ministers. The woeful state of Ngurah Rai International Airport is threatening to become a national embarrassment and a liability for the nation’s top tourism destination. And some tourists gave an earful to Tourism Minister Jero Wacik and Patrialis Akbar, the minister of law and human rights, during their surprise visit. “I heard some [immigration] officers say to the minister that it only takes 45 seconds to issue a visa on arrival. But I queued for 15 minutes just now,” said one Australian tourist named Lizza. It was easy to see why. Six of the 25 visa on arrival counters at the international arrivals hall were closed because their computers were broken, officials said. Patrialis and Wacik witnessed first-hand the long queues. “We want all the counters to be well-functioning and manned by officers. Tourists should be in their [taxi] cabs within 15 minutes if we have good service,” they said. One Indonesian tourist told the ministers the domestic terminal had its own problems, including leaky roofs as the air-conditioners dripped water, dirty entrance and walls in the toilets, and many broken luggage trolleys. Just two years ago, Ngurah Rai was named the country’s best airport by the Ministry of Transportation. But last week, the airport’s operator said it could no longer handle the huge volume of travelers, 45 percent of who are domestic travelers. It processes more than nine million passengers a year. Patrialis said the surprise inspection was part of his ministry’s 100-day program to improve airport immigration services. There were many complaints about Ngurah Rai, he said. “Do not let the tourists down. We must give our best service,” Patrialis said. Wacik also suggested limiting the shops at Ngurah Rai, because it is not a transit airport. “Ngurah Rai is not like Changi in Singapore. If the tourists want to shop, let them shop in Sukawati [handicraft] market instead,” he said.

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