After a period of economic turbulence because of the pandemic, Indonesia’s travel industry is ready to reclaim its throne as one of the largest income contributors to the country.
At one moment, due to pandemics, Bali, which had 6.2 million international arrivals in 2019, only had 1.05 million in 2020. As a result, hotels occupancy hits an all-time low, and 100,000 workers from the tourism sector lost their jobs.
The social restriction relaxation came as a light at the end of the dark and long tunnel. As a result of the rapid national vaccination programs, Bali is open and ready to welcome back visitors.
“Indonesia re-opened Bali after fully vaccination rate in the province reached 84.8 percent. Indonesia will also gradually reopen other regions with a full vaccination rate of more than 70 percent,” stated President Joko Widodo in his remarks in the Virtual ASEAN Business and Investment Summit at Bogor Presidential Palace, West Java.
The Indonesian Hotels and Restaurants Association (PHRI) Badung Regency has noted that Bali, on average, receives 22,000 domestic visitors per day. The island’s tourism sites have reopened with strict COVID-19 protocols in place. One thousand two hundred tourism hotels, destinations, and objects have been given CHSE (Clean, Health, Safety, and Environment) certification program by the Indonesian Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy. The industry fully realized the importance of strict health protocols to mitigate the risks of COVID-19 transmissions.
Bali’s current situation shows that it is possible to prioritize both life and livelihood in other tourist destinations in Indonesia. Sandiaga Salahuddin Uno, the Tourism and Creative Economy Minister, has stated that the government would reopen 18 tourist destinations for foreign tourists as the pandemic curve decreases.
It is the first step in reopening Indonesia and establishing safe travel corridors with other countries.
The government has designated 18 priority tourist destinations in Indonesia. They are Lake Toba (North Sumatra), Tanjung Kelayang (Bangka Belitung Islands), Borobudur (Central Java), Mandalika (West Nusa Tenggara), Morotai Island (North Maluku), Wakatobi (Southeast Sulawesi), Thousand Islands (DKI Jakarta), Tanjung Lesung (Banten), Bromo (East Java), Labuan Bajo (East Nusa Tenggara), Bukittinggi (West Sumatra), Batam and Bintan, Bandung (West Java), Banyuwangi (East Java), Singkawang (West Kalimantan), Toraja (South Sulawesi), Derawan Islands (East Kalimantan), and Cendrawasih Bay (West Papua).
The government’s next step is to invite foreign investment. “We have relaxed the regulations in the tourism and creative economy sectors. We also created a designated Special Economic Zone (SEZ) and revisi the Job Creation Law which purpose is to boost investment,” stated Mr. Uno when he opened the Global Tourism Forum Leader Summit Asia in September 2021.
Based on the data of the Indonesian Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM), the foreign investment realization from the hotel and restaurant sector has reached USD112 million as per the second quarter of 2021. This is set to increase, especially in the designated 18 priority tourist destinations.
The beautiful Lake Toba, for example, has managed to attract a combined value of USD69 million worth of investment. Mandalika, Lombok - which recently has successfully hosted its first international World Superbike race event – also managed to draw USD89 million investment.
Foreign and domestic investments are both badly needed to speed up infrastructure development. It will boost the badly-hit tourism sector and provide job opportunities in each designated destination. For that purpose, the Ministry of Investment and the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy have signed a Memorandum of Understanding about investment priority targets in the tourism and creative economy sector.
There is a pervading optimism that the nation’s travel industry is on its way to recovery. With the ongoing rapid vaccination program and the Indonesian government’s fast response under the threat of the new Omicron variant, Indonesia’s domestic travel industry is expected to lay the groundwork for a full return of the country’s access toward international travels.