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Jakarta Post

Travel agency expects Indonesian nature to lure tourists after pandemic

  • Riza Roidila Mufti¬†

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Tue, June 30, 2020   /   02:30 pm
Travel agency expects Indonesian nature to lure tourists after pandemic A general view shows a near-empty beach in Kuta on Indonesia's resort island of Bali on March 22, amid concerns over the COVID-19 outbreak. (AFP/Sonny Tumbelaka)

Indonesia will still be a lucrative tourist destination in the post-pandemic era with its nature-based attractions, seen to be the new destination preference going forward, global online travel agency Group stated. Group CEO Jane Sun told The Jakarta Post on June 24 that after the pandemic, tourists were expected to opt for visiting outdoor places and less crowded areas, of which Indonesia has many choices to offer. 

“Indonesia is a very big country with many beautiful islands,” Sun said on a press briefing. “Indonesia can organize [the destinations] in a way that is presentable to these consumers, so it will capitalize a lot on this opportunity.”

The pandemic has severely battered tourism in Indonesia as people stay home to contain the virus spread, with more than 55,000 cases to date. Foreign tourist visits to Indonesia have plunged 87.44 percent year-on-year (yoy) to 160,000 visitors in April, the lowest in recent history.

With the right promotion strategy in introducing the richness of its tourist destinations while maintaining safety and health standards, Indonesia could lure travelers to the country, Sun said.

Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto signed on June 19 a decree on health guidelines for public facilities, including hotels, restaurants, shopping malls, fitness centers, convention halls, tourist destinations and public transportation, as the country gradually reopens the economy.

Sun also stated that the COVID-19 pandemic had generally changed tourist preferences and trends. Apart from outdoor destinations, tourists prefer to travel in small groups and focus on hygiene and health aspects forward, Sun said.

The recent Travel Trends report by Group in partnership with tech giant Google found that interest in short-haul travel was also quickly developing, while safety and flexibility had also become the main considerations.

“We see that customers [nowadays] tend to book accommodation at the very last minute and in hotels with free cancelations and refunds,” she said. Group recently introduced promotions, flexibilities, guarantees under its “Travel On” initiative aimed at helping the travel-related industry to recover. The group provides customers access to exclusive discounts of up to 60 percent on flexible advance reservations at more than 30,000 hotel partners in more than 180 countries.

The China-based firm also stated that during the so-called the new normal period, Indonesia will remain a favorable place to visit for Chinese tourists, which been the main contributors to foreign visits in Indonesia. 

Last year alone, the country recorded 2.07 million Chinese tourist visits, a slight dip from 2.13 million in 2018.

There will be a rising number of tourists from other Asian countries, such as South Korea and Japan, Jane added.

In an interview with the Post in May, Indonesian Travel Agent Association (Astindo) spokesperson Madeleine Sophie, who also runs Era Tour, said Indonesia’s richness in nature-based tourism could be a potential key to attract travelers in the new normal era.

“People are hoping to visit natural tourist destinations, such as waterfall and beaches. Fortunately, we are rich in those kinds of destinations. So, the COVID-19 pandemic has actually made us realize that Indonesia can be a one-stop destination, for natural destinations because we have everything from mountains, valleys, rivers, waterfalls, caves and even local culinary wisdom,” said Madeleine. 

Editor's note: This article has been updated to accommodate a clarification by Group that the company is based in China, not Hong Kong.