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Yogyakarta empty of tourists as COVID-19 takes toll

News Desk

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Tue, March 31, 2020  /  04:29 pm
Yogyakarta empty of tourists as COVID-19 takes toll

A corner of Jl. Malioboro in Yogyakarta is deserted. Proud of its traditional cultural and historical sites, tourists usually flock to the city, especially on weekends and holidays. (Shutterstock/Jaya Tri Hartono)

One hundred percent of would-be visitors have cancelled their trips because of the COVID-19 outbreak in the country, according to the Association of Indonesian Tour and Travel Agencies (ASITA).

“This means we didn't get any visitors since last week until the end of March,” said the head of ASITA's Yogyakarta chapter, Udhi Sudiyanto, in a statement as quoted by on Tuesday.

“Due to security and safety reasons, many tourists have postponed or canceled their visits,” he added.

The steady stream of cancellations began after President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo announced the first cases of COVID-19 in the country. In early March, the cancellation and rescheduling rates rose to 15 to 20 percent and 50 to 70 percent, respectively.

Meanwhile citizens of countries worst hit by the pandemic, such as France, Germany, Spain, Malaysia and China, had reportedly cancelled their trips for April.

According to Udhi, the cancellations not only affected travel agencies that sell inbound and domestic tourist packages, but also those offering outbound tours, such as trips to Europe and for umrah (minor haj).

Tourism is one of Yogyakarta's most important industries. Proud of its traditional cultural and historical sites, tourists usually flock to the region, especially on weekends and holidays.

Because of this alarming situation, Udhi has called on all parties to cooperate and help each other to prevent wider spread of the deadly virus, as flattening the pandemic curve is the only way to improve the country’s tourism.

“Worries [regarding COVID-19 spread] will surely affect tourists traveling to Yogyakarta, not only those coming from countries or areas hit by the pandemic, but also from places free from it,” Udhi said.

Trip cancellations are understandable, however, as popular tourist sites are currently closed to visitors until at least mid-April, including the popular Borobudur, Prambanan and Ratu Boko temples in Central Java. (gis/kes)

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