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June 8, 2020, 03.44 PM

JAKARTA, - The global tourism industry is one of the worst affected businesses since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Airlines in Europe have received financial assistance and so has Indonesia’s national airline carrier, Garuda Indonesia, through a working loan guarantee of IDR 8.5 trillion by the central government.

As air travel declined sharply and countries closed their borders to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus, stakeholders in the tourism industry have had to face an uncertain future.

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Indonesia’s tourism businesses have not been immune to the volatility and unpredictability of these uncertain times.

Under President Joko Widodo, Indonesia has ramped up efforts to boost the number of tourist arrivals and invest in underdeveloped tourism destinations.

Official plans on tourism development had to be pushed aside as the government closed national borders to international travelers, imposed lockdown, and faced difficulties to curb the pandemic.

This has resulted in a significant reduction of international travelers entering the country where Statistics Indonesia reported an 87.44% drop in year-on-year international tourist arrivals posted for April 2020.

Despite preparing itself to enter a ‘new normal’, Indonesia has demonstrated a lackluster response to the pandemic.

As of 5 June 2020, the country has a total of 29,521 COVID-19 cases with daily infection rates in the high hundreds – raising questions over how it can attract tourists amidst the backdrop of the novel virus.

The Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy is nonetheless looking to restart the tourism industry by introducing its Cleanliness, Health, and Safety program that will apply for businesses, workers, guests, and tourists.

Adherence is integral to the success of maintaining these standards in the new normal thus the Ministry will first socialize the guidelines then conduct a trial run of the protocols before related businesses can reopen.

Airing on the side of caution, the Ministry of Tourism has additionally opted on information dissemination initiatives turning to video tutorials, motion graphics, and books to introduce the new guidelines.

There is plenty of anticipation for Indonesia to fully enter the new normal, however, the tourism industry is one area that has been asked to not rush in its reopening by President Joko Widodo.

What international experience in Europe and East Asia can teach Indonesia is that opening borders too soon and having weak public support for maintaining health and safety standards can reignite new COVID-19 hotspots.

Strict monitoring, evaluation, and discipline are deciding factors in the new normal according to the Ministry of Tourism.

As such, change can be expected in Indonesia’s tourism reboot story that would spell out an enhanced way of visiting ‘Wonderful Indonesia.’ (Author: Anggara Wikan Prasetya | Editor: Mikhael Gewati)


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