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COVID19 Updates

COVID19 Updates

Read below for updates from the WavePark team regarding COVID19 and how it might affect your travel to Mentawai.

WavePark’s (updated March 18th) official cancellation and refund policy:

As of Friday 20th March, new travel restrictions are applied to all foreigners arriving into Indonesia.  

From the Jakarta Post, 17th March:  “The Foreign Ministry said that ‘all foreigners or travellers who wish to visit Indonesia must obtain a visa from Indonesian missions in accordance with the purpose of their visit’ and that ‘upon application, applicants must provide a health certificate issued by a relevant health authority from their respective countries’.  These new travel restrictions are now in place until April 20, 2020.

https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2020/03/17/covid-19-indonesia-suspends-visa-free-policy-expands-ban-for-people-from-worst-hit-countries.html?src=mostviewed&pg=/

Based upon these changes in national policy, combined with future operational unknowns in Mentawai, we’ve updated our Booking/Cancellation policy.

For all bookings after July 10th , booking conditions remain the same:  If you would like to continue with your booking, your balance will be due 90 days prior to your arrival at WavePark.  If you cancel your trip or choose not to pay the balance, your deposit is non-refundable.

For all bookings before July 10th, here are the options you can choose from:

Decision # 1: Pay your trip balance in full

  • We’ll be here on standby for your trip as scheduled.  Maybe you’ll be one of the first surfers allowed back in Mentawai?  After you’ve paid your balance, the deadline to confirm you are coming is 3 weeks before the start of your trip.
  • If you pay balance and have to cancel your trip for whatever reason, the money that you’ve paid is safe with us until you choose to come back.  Any trip with availability between now and the last trip of the published schedule in 2022 can be used for credit transfer. 
  • There may be a re-book fee which will be equal to the difference between your original trip quote in 2020, and the published rate of the same trip length at the time of re-booking.
  • You’ll get first notice of new dates when they are released, allowing you to choose the dates that work for you, prior to us releasing them to the public.
  • Only 1 date change for each guest credit is allowed.

Decision # 2: Trip Cancellation

  • If you decide to cancel your trip, your deposit is non-refundable and cannot be transferred or credited to another person or date.  We are happy to help with documents required to process an insurance claim if that is helpful for you.

This policy is effective immediately as of 31 March 2020. 

For any questions, feel free to contact me directly.

Christie’s personal thoughts on COVID119 updated 9 March, 2020

I’ve been operating in Asia long enough now to have seen the effect on our industry from SARS, MERS, swine and avian flu outbreaks. I’m pretty sure I personally contracted the swine and avian flus. The things I’ve chosen to focus on for now regarding this new coronavirus:

  • Plus or minus, SARS had a mortality rate of 10% (1 in 10), MERS 37% (3 in 10) and Ebola 90% (9 in 10). A seasonal flu outbreak in your average population has a mortality rate of .001 (1 in 1,000). So far, the COVID19 is averaging around 1 – 5% (1 – 5 in 100) depending on who you’re talking to. To me this means COVID19 is not the kind of thing you want to be blase about, but it’s not the kind of thing you want to go full-zombie-apocalypse either. My perspective is a middle road between the two. Logically, some of the things that affect regional mortality rates (Wuhan compared to Sydney, for example) are age, health of the population and access to robust medical care. Online defamation and slander is a serious crime in Indonesia and people have gone to court and eventually jail over this, so I will leave the ending of this paragraph to your common sense about robustness of health care in your chosen locale.
  • I am running a for profit business which for sure will be heavily impacted by this crisis. I’ve always taken care of the people who spend their hard earned money to visit me in this remote part of the world, and I would hope that anybody who has dealt with me can attest to my integrity. I have always preferred that guests have clear, realistic expectations when they come all this way, rather than me sugar-coating anything and then have disappointed guests. Therefore, I can tell you honestly that my biggest fears for my guests during 2020 is not them contracting COVID19.
  • My biggest fear is that airlines will be so impacted by a drop in demand that international and perhaps even domestic flights will be cancelled, leaving guests either unable to join a trip at all, or unable to join a trip on the start date, resulting in delays and additional logistics costs to get them from mainland Sumatra to WavePark.
  • My second biggest fear is that this situation is evolving so fast with unpredictable consequences. There is a small possibility that a tourist who flew to Indonesia might encounter a policy change in their home country while they are gone. Again, a small possibility, but this situation could result in a inconvenient quarantine on the way back home. Some guests I know CAN take 2 weeks out of their regular lives anytime without too many consequences. But a lot of guests don’t have that luxury and 14 days of unplanned leave from family and work would be devastating.
  • Finally, from a perspective lacking empathy, sympathy and being purely selfish, it’s looking a lot like waves don’t care about COVID19? They will still be barreling on reefs as they always have. I can say without any hesitations that for those of you that like perfect uncrowded surf, I’ll be doing my best to make lemonade from lemons.

Relevant links:

How to flatten the curve: A visual representation of the effectiveness of social spacing:
https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2020/world/corona-simulator/?utm_source=pocket-newtab


John Hopkins CSSE COVID19 real-time tracking: https://gisanddata.maps.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/bda7594740fd40299423467b48e9ecf6

36 minutes of your COVID19 questions answered:
https://www.rnz.co.nz/audio/player?audio_id=201873634

Updated 9 March, 2020
WHO recommendations for international travellers:
https://www.who.int/news-room/articles-detail/updated-who-recommendations-for-international-traffic-in-relation-to-covid-19-outbreak/

Updated 22 March, 2020

Things have been moving so fast it is hard to keep up. It has been a whirlwind week for us here:

March 20th the Indonesian government closed the country’s borders to foreigners unless they have a visa prior to arrival. The application to get a visa at an embassy outside the country must include a letter of health (covid19 free), so it will be very difficult in the short-term for somebody to get a tourist visa. They’re basically banning foreigners without saying as much.

March 20th also marked the Mentawai government banning tourists from leaving for Mentawai. Any boats carrying tourists are not getting permission to leave by the harbormaster.

March 21st the head of Mentawai closed all tourist attractions, including waves. The writing was that “it is forbidden to move between surf spots.” God knows how they’ll enforce this. As of this morning I can still see several charter boats enjoying free movement, and there are no patrols.

We had 46 guest cancellations, which puts us through to May 8th with no guests. Our last remaining guests went home March 21st, and some of the staff went back to their villages. Almost all of our boats are back out of the water, after less than a week in. The guests got to ride in our new boat Piligi once.

Updated 12 March, 2020

Well, today started off not so good hearing that America has blocked most Europeans from travel to USA for the foreseeable future. That’s not good. I did have some movement locally though, talking directly with the health and quarantine staff in the Padang airport. They gave me the name of the only 2 hospitals in West Sumatra that have quarantine areas and covid19 tests ready. The also said that all guests need to hold onto their yellow health forms that they fill out after arriving on an international flight. Personally I think the yellow form is kind of a “See? We’re doing something” kind of measure, but health theater, much like security theater does seem to make people feel better. I have visions of mountains and mountains of yellow forms stacked up in a back warehouse in the Jakarta airport, a great source of food for termites. But yeah, keep your yellow form handy just in case some official with stripes or stars on his jacket asks you for it.

Updated 7 March, 2020

United Airlines offers free changes for 12 months on all tickets:

From United Airlines via email:
“To give you the greatest flexibility, when you book any flight with us now through March 31, you can change it for free over the next 12 months – any ticket, any fare type, any destination.”

Updated by WavePark 6 March, 2020
WorldNomads no longer covers any claims related to COVID19 for policies issued after January 31st, 2020:

https://www.worldnomads.com.au/help-center/insurance/recent-events/travel-alert-coronavirus-january-2020

From what we can tell this means that if you get a travel insurance policy issued after January 31st, you will not be able to claim any losses arising from COVID19. It is unclear if this includes travel delay and disruptions from flight cancellations, or if it only relates to medical type claims?

West Sumatra government considers banning flights into Padang from Batam:
https://www.suara.com/news/2020/03/03/234911/cegah-corona-sumatera-barat-bakal-tutup-penerbangan-luar-negeri-dan-batam

Historically, Batam is a way for a very few WavePark guests to transit from Singapore – Batam – Padang in the past. Singapore – Kuala Lumpur – Padang, or Singapore – Jakarta – Padang would have to be the new route for these guests. Not trip-ending stuff, just additional time and cost to re-route. For now this is only a “consideration”, not actually enacted, but interesting that it would end up in the local papers. It appears (for now) that the provincial and regional government lacks the authority to make these national-scope domestic flight decisions anyway, but this is an interesting space to watch.

Indonesia government blocks flights from South Korea, Italy and Iran:
https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2020/03/05/covid-19-indonesia-issues-travel-ban-for-hardest-hit-iran-south-korea-italy.html?utm_campaign=os&utm_source=mobile&utm_medium=ios