JAKARTA, KOMPAS.com – The Covid-19 pandemic remains uncertain for more than a year, causing an unprecedented crisis for the tourism industry around the world, including Indonesia.
Just like others, the Southeast Asia country could only rely on domestic tourism following the travel restrictions.
This year, the government has lowered the domestic tourism target to 180 million movements from 320 million movements. On the one hand, it would create further challenges for the industry, but on the other hand, it could contain the spread of the coronavirus.
Despite the challenges, some strategies have been developed to help recover the tourism and travel sector. This includes various incentives to improve the industry after the rate of hotel occupancy, the hotel revenue and other tourism-related services are hit badly.
Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Airlangga Hartarto recently said that the assistance includes the implementation of CHSE (cleanliness, health, safety, and environment) measures, the support for the making of Indonesian films, and hotel accommodation for health care workers.
This year alone, the government has allocated 7.67 trillion rupiahs ($537.5 million) to support the national tourism strategic areas, ecotourism, and human resources training in the tourism sector.
There is an increase in the budget of the government incentive assistance to 60 billion rupiahs [$4.2 million] or a threefold increase in the assistance compare to 2020. It aims to fund the seven creative economy sub-sectors namely apps, game developers, handicrafts, fashion, culinary, film, and the tourism sector, according to Airlangga.
To reduce the impact of Covid-19 and to maintain the sustainability of the economy in the tourism sector, the government has provided grants of 3.7 trillion rupiahs ($260 million) from the national economic recovery (PEN) program. The funds aim to alleviate the burden of the local administrations, hotels, and restaurants after experiencing a decline in revenues and financial hardships due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The grants have been transferred to the provincial governments and tourism operators in 101 regencies or cities, based on some criteria. “The grant in the tourism sector has been increased to 3.7 trillion rupiahs [$260 million] this year from 3.3 trillion rupiahs [$231 million] last year.”
The grant is part of the programs to enhance social protection and it will not only be used to assist the hotels and restaurants, but also travel agencies, operators of tourist attractions, and recreational parks.
In a recent interview, Co-founder of Indonesia’s first online travel company tiket.com Gaery Undarsa expressed optimism about the tourism sector may return to its pre-pandemic level.
“The impact of Covid-19 pandemic is not the worst thing ever happens to tiket.com,” Gaery, who is also the company’s chief marketing officer, told Kompas.com on Wednesday, September 22.
He recalled that in 2017, before the pandemic, the company could not afford to pay the salaries of 250 employees. But, during the pandemic, when the tourism industry is one of the sectors most affected, the company can pay the monthly salaries of over 1,000 employees and all still have their jobs. “This is something that we can be grateful for,” he said.
He went on to say that the pandemic has opened up opportunities in domestic tourism as Indonesian travelers now search for new tourist destinations in the country.
“I really hope that we [the tourism sector] can be better than before.”
“A lot of industries are also affected by the pandemic but as long as we stay optimistic and always look at the opportunities, there is always hope for a better future,” he added.
To do so, he underscored the importance of working closely with the relevant parties. Taking an example, his company has organized workshops to support the government program on five 'Super Priority Destinations', namely Lake Toba, Borobudur, Mandalika, Labuan Bajo, and Likupang.
“We need to put more focus on these destinations, our team has visited those places to get a closer look at the situation on the ground,” he said.
Remain alert for possible Covid-19 surge
Reopening the country’s economy must also consider public health. Indonesia has begun easing the Covid-19 restrictions after the coronavirus infections continue to decline. Some areas, especially those in alert level 3 cities in Java and Bali are allowed to start trial runs for reopening the tourist attractions.
Following continuous improvement in Covid-19 indicators, some adjustments have been made, including the rules for places of worship, restaurants, and malls or shopping centers.
Restaurants within the shopping malls can now serve dine-in customers but limit their capacity to 50 percent. Previously, shopping centers could only operate at 25 percent capacity, while restaurants could only offer takeaway or delivery services.
A spokesperson for the National Covid-19 Task Force Wiku Adisasmito said that the decline in new coronavirus cases needs to be handled carefully. All parties are urged to continue to maintain strict health protocols to keep reducing the spread of the Covid-19.
“To keep reducing the Covid-19 cases, efforts must be done and be wise in carrying out social and economic activities even some restrictions have been relaxed,” Wiku told an online press conference on Thursday, September 30.
He reminds the public to learn from the previous months when the new number of infections had increased significantly during the holidays and religious celebrations. The situation got worse after the more virulent Delta variant was first detected in the country a few months ago. It turned out that the Covid cases increased by 214 percent, he said.
With the current challenges, all relevant parties need to make the best possible decisions in reopening the economy and reviving the tourism sector safely.Dapatkan update berita pilihan dan breaking news setiap hari dari Kompas.com. Mari bergabung di Grup Telegram "Kompas.com News Update", caranya klik link https://t.me/kompascomupdate, kemudian join. Anda harus install aplikasi Telegram terlebih dulu di ponsel.