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Jakarta Post

Yogya's tourism firms say they need tourists more than financial aid

  • Bambang Muryanto

    The Jakarta Post

Yogyakarta   /   Tue, September 22, 2020   /   07:38 pm
Yogya's tourism firms say they need tourists more than financial aid Jl. Malioboro in Yogyakarta is quiet on June 29, as the COVID-19 pandemic hit Indonesia. Yogyakarta’s administration has declared a disaster emergency due to the virus, which has halted most tourism activity in the region. (-/JP/Bambang Muryanto)

Tourism businesspeople in Yogyakarta have demanded that the government establish clear and consistent regulations regarding tourist visits to the area, as the pandemic has pushed down the number of visitors.

Sugihartono, who manages the province’s popular ecotourism destination Dolandeso Boro, told The Jakarta Post on Monday that working capital loans alone would not help his business survive if the visitor turnout remained low.

Sugihartono said government regulations only allowed his business to serve 30 visitors per day, less than 10 percent of the average 500 daily visitors at the tourism spot before the pandemic.

“We don’t need working capital aid, because we still need to turn the capital [into revenue]. Meanwhile, visitors want certainty on whether they may visit us or not,” he said.

Rusli Hariyanto, who works in the travel business in Yogyakarta, canceled his plan to return to the province from his hometown of Situbondo, East Java, following the reimposition of large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) in Jakarta due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases. Most of his customers are from Jakarta.

“To us, what matters is not the working capital but whether we have guests or not,” he said. “The government’s unpredictable policy on COVID-19 has caused us difficulties.”

The pandemic has depressed the tourism industry as it prompted authorities to enforce mobility restrictions in various regions to curb virus transmission. It has wiped out around Rp 85 trillion (US$5.7 billion) of Indonesia’s tourism revenue so far this year, according to data from the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI).

Yogyakarta Sultan Hamengkubuwono X, who is also Yogyakarta’s governor, in July decided to partially reopened the province’s tourism sector. The governor let tourist destinations operate with a limited number of visitors, as he feared the full reopening of the sector would be too risky for Yogyakarta.

The government has allocated Rp 695.2 trillion for its COVID-19 response, of which Rp 123.46 trillion is earmarked as aid for small businesses.

It aims to provide Rp 2.4 million for at least 10 million to 12 million micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) as well as working capital loans of Rp 2 million to support the MSMEs.

Read also: Govt to tweak social safety net programs to boost disbursement

The Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry’s undersecretary for industry and investment, Fadjar Hutomo, said the government had provided working capital loans for the tourism industry and hold classes on how to utilize the loans.

“Tourism industry players could receive information and coaching on how to utilize the National Economic Recovery [PEN] program funds to restart their productive activities,” Fadjar said during an event held by the ministry at Royal Ambarukmo Hotel, Yogyakarta, on Monday.

Yogyakarta Tourism Agency head Singgih Raharjo said tourism in the province had started to see a recovery in tourist visits, with some 6,000 daily visits recorded on weekdays and 30,000 on weekends.

Most visitors came from within Yogyakarta, from Central Java, from West Java and from Jakarta, he said, with popular tourist areas such as Malioboro flooded with domestic tourists.

Statistics Indonesia (BPS) recorded an increase in Yogyakarta’s hotel occupancy rate to 27.8 percent in July from 15.5 percent in June. That figure is still far below the prepandemic level of 56.3 percent in February.

“[Despite the increase], we are still unable to serve large groups of tourists,” Singgih said on Monday.

He echoed the tourism industry’s concern, saying that businesses needed more than just working capital, namely also regulations on people’s movement that allowed for an increase in the number of tourists. (mpr)