Thousands of Australians have pleaded to stay in Bali without risking huge fines after their tourist visas expire.
Thousands of tourists sheltered on the Indonesian island during the coronavirus lockdown, and were last month given until August 9 to leave.
Travellers were issued emergency visas in March but Indonesian officials are now removing these to prepare for domestic travel and potential international arrivals in September.
The free automatic Emergency Stay Permits have already expired and tourists who fail to leave by early August will face a hefty fee.
Indonesia’s normal rules are now in force again, including a $100 per day overstay fee that must be paid in cash on departure.
Immigration processes are also restarting and applications for residency extensions can be processed, but there is no extension path for the tourist visas.
Liam Hayes, an Australian citizen who runs a broking business in Bali, said it was time for tourists ‘to go home’.
‘If you are here on a residency or retirement visa it shouldn’t affect you. But those on tourist visas have a problem,’ he told the Financial Review.
There are an estimated 10,000 Australians who remained in Indonesia during the lockdown, made up of 7,000 expatriates and 3,000 tourists.
Thousands of Australians have called on the Indonesian government to change the rules and signed a petition to allow visa renewals without leaving the country.
‘There are an estimated 7,000 foreigners currently in Bali who are supporting the local economy by spending money on villa rentals, homestays, hotels, local restaurant and many other local businesses.’
‘Asking foreigners to fly home increases the risk of death from COVID-19 for both Indonesian citizens and foreigners.
‘We would like Indonesia to allow foreigners to stay for the long term,’ the change.org petition read.
Tourists could fly to an international destination and pick up a new visa on their return to Bali, but flights are scarce and most neighbouring countries remain in lockdown.
It is understood the central government in Jakarta is considering granting the exemption and extending tourist visas.
Thousands of Australian travellers could remain stranded as Indonesia’s Garuda are the only airline currently flying directly between Australia and Indonesia.
The carrier is only operating one weekly service from Bali and one from Jakarta.
One tourist expert advising Bali Governor Wayan Koster said local businesses appreciated the support from tourists.
‘Many expats were sent money from their families to pay for accommodation. The hotels were not full of course but at least they had some income.
‘This is why many believe the new immigration regulations are not wise,’ Mr Rai said.
Indonesia has recorded a total of 91,751 coronavirus cases and 4,459 deaths, far more than Australia’s 133 deaths.
The Australian Consulate-General in Bali, Anthea Griffin, has urged Australians who need urgent assistance to call the Consular Emergency Centre in Canberra on +61 2 6261 3305.
The Consulate-General’s website says her office is only accepting essential appointments due to the coronavirus pandemic and some services may be limited.
A Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesperson said the network of embassies and consulates in Indonesia was providing consular support as required.
‘Australians impacted by Indonesia’s recent visa decision should contact Indonesian immigration authorities to resolve their individual circumstances.
‘The Australian Embassy in Jakarta remains in contact with Indonesian officials on this matter.
‘We encourage all Australians seeking to return home to remain in regular contact with their airlines or travel agents to confirm their arrangements,’ the spokesperson told Daily Mail Australia.
Bali is a favourite Australian travel destination with more than 1 million holiday-makers travelling to the Indonesian island’s palm-fringed beaches each year.
It has also become synonymous with tourists behaving disrespectfully.
In August, Bali’s Governor Wayan Koster warned that tourists could be kicked off the island if they misbehaved after an influencer couple were filming splashing each other with holy water at a temple.
‘In the future, if there are tourists behaving like that we should just send them home, they are being disorderly coming to Bali. We will give them this warning,’ he told reporters.