Time to jolt the Tourism Sector out of its Coma?

29
Time to jolt the Tourism Sector out of its Coma?
Photo: RAYI GIGIH/IO

The Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI) is of the view that as the Covid-19 caseload slid in September, the government needs to gradually reopen all tourist destinations, including Bali, Bintan, and Batam, to foreign tourists, especially those who have been fully vaccinated. This is enthusiastically supported by the Indonesia Event Industry Council (IVENDO). Previously, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo also asserted that Bali could reopen in July, as long as the Covid-19 cases were kept under control. The President’s statement is a breath of fresh air for Bali tourism and industry players. The reopening will certainly revive Bali’s lucrative
MICE (Meeting, Incentive, Convention, Exhibition) sector, especially when Minister Sandiaga stated that international fights at I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport conducted simulated trials and other supporting programs to test its readiness.

According to BPS offce in Bali, the room occupancy ratio (THK) of star-rated hotels was at 8.99 percent or down 2.16 percentage points month-to-month. Nonstar hotels, however, saw their THK increase 1 percentage point to 7.7 percent. February saw the steepest monthly decline, when THK in 4- and 5-star hotels dropped 3.79 percentage points, compared to just 0.79 percentage points in 1- and 2-star hotels. On a year-over-year basis, decline in THK was observed in all star-rated hotels, the deepest in 5-star hotels (down 39.48 percentage points) while the lowest was in 1-star hotels (down 28.13 percentage points). Like Bali, star-rated hotels’ THK in West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) also began to go up, by 11.03% in February over the previous month. The BPS offce in NTB noted that in February the number of guests in star-rated hotels reached 25,063, 98.6 percent are domestic guests.
Nationwide, THK increased by 2.05 percentage points month to-month in February. This indicated that domestic tourists have been a driver of tourism revival in Indonesia, as confrmed by the Association of Indonesian Tourist Industry (GIPI). With a population of 280 million people, increased public mobility can signifcantly boost the tourism sector. The initiative by GIPI to kick off the “Pariwisata Indonesia Bergerak” campaign, among others, can stimulate domestic tourism to wean it off dependency on foreign tourists who are clustered in certain destinations. The revival of domestic tourism will certainly spur our local economy in tourist destinations across Indonesia.

A number of regions, such as Central Java and Yogyakarta, have begun to broadly reopen their tourism sector, kickstarting the transition to endemic
living. While still limited, several prime tourist destinations, such as Borobudur and Prambanan temple, have started to welcome visitors after receiving approval from the Governor of Central Java and Yogyakarta.

Strict health protocols have been implemented In Borobudur, starting from disinfecting vehicles in the parking lot, requiring visitors to wash their hands with soap and keep a safe distance when lining up, and customer service staff advising tourists of the importance of minding health protocols. Before proceeding to the ticket booth, they need to walk through
a sanitization gate. The officers will then check their body temperature using a thermo gun. Group tickets can only be purchased by one of the members and preferably paid using e-money. Inside the temple grounds, crowds are urged not to gather, as patrolling offcers constantly broadcast warnings. Seating areas have been marked for physical distancing, as are photo spots.

Even though it often makes the news regarding the maritime boundary dispute, the Natuna Islands turned out to be a highly potential tourist destination. Unfortunately, there has been lack of promotion by the government and publicity by the media. Here, there is one annual sailing event that brought a lot of foreign tourists before the pandemic – Natuna Yacht Rally, usually held around June or July. However, due to the pandemic, it has been cancelled for two years in a row.

The public does not know much about how Natuna has developed into a new tourist destination due to its strategic location; it is close to Malaysia, Singapore, and even Vietnam to the north. Currently, there is one daily fight to Natuna from Batam, making it easier to access. Its natural beauty and serene atmosphere are the main draw, especially for foreign tourists who
dislike famous overcrowded destinations.