The Jakarta Post
The government is preparing a tourism recovery strategy after the sector was severely impacted by the emergency measures put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the country.
The Office of the Coordinating Maritime Affairs and Investment Minister’s undersecretary, Ridwan Djamaluddin, said the government would soon establish a team to coordinate efforts to revive tourism alongside private companies and stakeholders.
“We are currently formulating a strategy and raising funds to revive tourism. The ministry has proposed establishing a joint team to coordinate our efforts, as the government and private sector cannot work separately” he said during an online discussion held by Tourism Aware Citizens (Masata) on May 14.
Tourism came to a virtual halt when the COVID-19 outbreak hit Indonesia in March. The situation worsened in the following months after the government imposed a partial lockdown to halt the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19.
According to the latest data issued by Statistic Indonesia (BPS), foreign tourist arrivals fell 64.1 percent year-on-year (yoy) in March to 470,898 visitors, a level unseen since February 2009.
President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, however, believes tourism will rebound in 2021 with the government to prioritize it in its economic agenda, according to the Presidential Chief of Staff Moeldoko.
“The President projected that there would be a tourism boom next year and the industry should be ready for it,” he said during the discussion.
As part of the recovery program, the Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry will launch online marketing campaigns and improve hygiene and safety standards in major tourist destinations to attract foreign tourists.
“As part of the rebound strategy, we will deliver a message to the market that the safety and hygiene of our tourist destinations are in accordance with international standards. By doing so, we can spur confidence and maintain our credibility among potential visitors,” said the ministry's deputy head of resources and institutional affairs, Frans Teguh.
In addition, Frans said the ministry also provided online training for tourism workers who wished to improve their skills and prepare themselves for shifts in consumer behavior.
Local administrations are also preparing various strategies, with health, safety and hygiene protocols a priority.
Bali’s deputy governor Tjokorda Oka Arta Ardhana said the province planned to establish “tourism clusters”, which would be exclusive tourist zones in which high-level health protocols would be implemented, so that tourists could be welcomed back without the risk of spreading COVID-19 to locals.
“We don’t want to have a second wave of infections when we reopen. Therefore, we are currently discussing setting up tourism clusters around the island,” he said.
Meanwhile, Belitung’s deputy regent Isyak Meirobie proposed offering tourism packages that would include a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test for visitors who visited the island.
“The tourists would have to take a swab test on their arrival to the island, which would be part of the tour package. If they’re found negative, they could roam freely on the island,” he said.
A recent survey by the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) confirmed the predicted change in traveler preferences, with health and safety becoming a major concern for future trips.
The survey was conducted among 1,200 Chinese tourists, who made up the largest group of foreign visitors to the country before the pandemic.
“The tourists surveyed hope that travel agencies and destinations take the necessary measures to ensure the health and safety of tourists during their travels,” the study read.