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Indonesian Tourists Advised to Postpone Overseas Trips during Pandemic

November 4, 2020, 09.22 PM

KOMPAS.com – Indonesian tourists have been advised to postpone any overseas trips during the coronavirus pandemic until a Covid-19 vaccine is discovered.

An epidemiologist from the University of Indonesia Hermawan Saputra said that Indonesia has not passed the critical phase of its battle with the deadly virus as shown in the rise in the country’s daily Covid-19 infections.

“Traveling is a tertiary need that every individual should have the capacity to remain patient and postpone any overseas trips.”

No travel restrictions

Over the past couple of months, a handful of countries began lifting travel restrictions and allowing foreigners to enter including Turkey, Dubai, and Saudi Arabia for umrah pilgrims.

Numerous Indonesian tourists have taken advantage of no travel restrictions applied in some countries to travel, said Pauline Suharno, Secretary-General of the Association of the Indonesian Tour & Travel Agencies.

Read also: Turkey and Saudi Arabia Top Destinations for Indonesian Travelers during Pandemic

Indonesian travelers are expected to have a preference to visit Turkey during the coronavirus pandemic due to its uncomplicated terms and conditions that apply to foreigners.

Turkey has allowed foreign tourists to enter, including travelers from Indonesia, since June 2020.

“Turkey does not require any PCR or rapid tests from travelers. To board Turkish Airlines, travelers are not subject to presenting any PCR test. It is when travelers from Indonesia return that they are required to present a PCR test result.”

Turkey’s expected popularity for Indonesian tourists is also due to the fact that there are several competitive tour packages available in the Southeast Asian nation.

“Many individuals are brave enough to purchase tour packages when it is cheaper. It could be because they have plenty of free time, but it could also because they are unsure if prices will increase again.”

Pauline’s prediction is that there will be more countries that will lift travel restrictions and allow the movement of foreigners into their respective territory.

She bases her argument on economic factors as several countries rely on the mobility of tourists.

Read also: Bumpy Road to Restoring Indonesia’s Tourism Sector during Pandemic

It is possible that Indonesian tourists will spontaneously plan overseas trips as more countries reopen their borders.

Considerations before reopening borders

Many countries have yet to allow Indonesian tourists due to their national caseload and the high number of active Covid-19 cases, said Hermawan. 

The exception to that rule only applied to umrah pilgrimages to Saudi Arabia in which the most Indonesian pilgrims departed to the Arab nation on Sunday, November 1.

“That is simply because umrah pilgrimage is a religious activity and it is a right for all Muslims hence the Saudi government proceeded in reopening their borders while imposing strict Covid-19 health protocols and procedures.”

Read also: Indonesia’s Airport Operator: First 253 Umrah Pilgrims Follow Health Protocols

Hermawan said that Covid-19 health protocols and procedures will almost definitely be much stricter than daily activities.

The protocols will be different than the ones applied for tourism purposes where many travelers take advantage of loopholes which then creates new Covid-19 clusters.

The risks of overseas trips

Indonesian tourists face a higher risk during an overseas trip than if they would travel close to their house or domestically.

One of the biggest risks that tourists from Indonesia face is the transmission of the Covid-19 virus, especially where they find themselves in crowded public spaces.

An airport is one example as well as modes of public transportation such as airplanes and buses, or tourist attractions and shopping centers.

Read also: Jakarta’s Main Airport Hits Record High in Passenger Movement amid Covid-19

“Such scenarios make it difficult to conduct proper tracing if there turns out to be a Covid-19 positive case that emerges.”

Another likely scenario is the emergence of a new strain of the Covid-19 virus.

Hermawan believes that such a scenario is probable where an Indonesian tourist returns home carrying a new virus strain.

Such a scenario would be possible as it is a risk behind social mobility such as traveling overseas.

(Writer: Syifa Nuri Khairunnisa | Editor: Kahfi Dirga Cahya)

Source: https://travel.kompas.com/read/2020/11/03/180800527/ahli-imbau-masyarakat-tunda-liburan-ke-luar-negeri?page=all#page2 

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