The certainty of government to open the tourism border in June-July is a hope for the management of the Ujung Water Palace to increase tourist visits. All requirements have been complied with starting from the application of standard health protocols known as Cleanliness, Health, Safety and Environmental Sustainability (CHSE), vaccination and always keeping the area safe from spreading viruses. “We are ready to receive domestic and foreign tourist visits. On that account, the tourism border must remain open this June – July. Otherwise, we will definitely think hard to cover the operating costs of the tourist attraction,” said the Operator of the Ujung Water Palace, Ida Made Alit.
This adviser to the Indonesia Hotels and Restaurants Association (PHRI) of Karangasem Chapter emphasized that since the Covid-19 pandemic hit Bali, the income of Ujung Water Palace has been minimal to below average, so that operating costs are often insufficient. Moreover, the tourist attraction was closed for four months (March – July 2020) due to the impact of the pandemic, resulting in zero income. “When there is a policy to live a new era of life (New Normal), the Ujung Water Palace will again receive a visit. Even though the income is minimal, we have not yet laid off employees because this tourist attraction is a cultural heritage that needs to be kept clean and sustainable,” he explained.
The Ujung Water Palace, managed by the Ujung Water Palace Management Agency, employs 50 people and 1 person from the Lesser Sunda Cultural Heritage Office in Gianyar. All staff and employees are paid sourcing from the admission ticket. “When we are reopening, we have a reserve fund collected every year, amounting to around IDR 380 million. The funds have been used up to cover the operating costs in 2020. We spent around IDR 150 million every month for employees’ salaries (half), electricity, BPJS social security, Wi-Fi, water, cleanup, pet food and office stationery as well as others,” he added.
Indeed, after opening during the pandemic, there was a small amount of income, namely IDR 1 million per day on average. However, this amount is not sufficient for operating costs, so that management continues to subsidy. “If the daily average number of visits is below 100 people, it is definitely not sufficient with an admission ticket price of IDR 15,000 for adult and IDR 5,000 for child (domestic), as well as IDR 50,000 and IDR 25,000 for child (foreigners). Currently, the visiting conditions are very quiet. Moreover, there are almost none for foreign tourists,” explained the man who is also active in the organization of the Indonesian Recreation Park Business Association (PUTRI) of Bali Chapter.
Prior to the pandemic, foreign tourist visit averagely reached 100 people and 200 domestic tourists per day, so the income before the pandemic was at least IDR 10 million per day, even up to IDR 20 million. “Since managing this tourist attraction, we have been able to deposit to the Karangasem Regional Government in 2016 as much as IDR 700 million from the profit sharing for the Regional Government amounting to 60 percent, in 2017 amounting to IDR 900 million, in 2018 (IDR 1.5 billion) and 2019 (IDR 1.7 billion). Meanwhile in 2020, we did not deposit because our income was minus and maybe nothing in 2021,” he explained.
This former Head of the Indonesia Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI) of Karangasem Chapter for the two periods stated that the conditions of several buildings in the Ujung Water Palace are damaged, such as the Round Hall, Floating Pavilion, and Gili Pavilion which are leaking. Currently, his party does not have any maintenance costs for repairs.
“That’s why we expect assistance from the government for the cost of repairs. Hopefully, the government will open the tourism border in June with the implementation of the Covid-Free Corridor, so that tourist visits are a hope to increase income. Do not let Ujung Water Palace close because it does not have operating costs,” he affirmed.
In the current situation, his party hoped that the government will provide relief for electricity costs, grants for employees and operations, so that the Ujung Water Palace can greet guests at any time. “If it is closed, the garden area will be very dirty and cleanliness is not maintained. The Ujung Water Palace is a cultural heritage that needs government protection. Here is the last legacy of the King of Karangasem retaining historical value for Eastern Bali. We really hope that the Covid-Free Corridor will remain in effect, so that tourism can recover and the objects can survive,” hoped Ida Made Alit. (BTN/015)