THE South Sulawesi tourism industry seems to need to work hard to boost tourist arrivals (tourists) in 2020. In March 2020, the number of foreign tourists visiting South Sulawesi was recorded at 1,029 visits.

The Central Statistics Agency (BPS) of South Sulawesi recorded that number decreased by 14.96% when compared to February 2020 with a total of 1,210 visits. Meanwhile, when compared with the same period in 2019, South Sulawesi tourist arrivals decreased by 43.96% with a total of 1,825 visits.

According to the Head of BPS South Sulawesi, Yos Rusdiansyah said this condition was due to the start of restrictions in various countries affected by the COVID-19 virus pandemic. Including a number of countries that have dominated the number of visits to South Sulawesi.

“In a situation like this, it is rather worrying that the number of foreign tourists visiting will decrease. That may be increasingly seen in the April position. It may be smaller than the current data,” Yos explained.

The accumulation of foreign tourist visits from January to March 2020 is 3,572 visits. Decreased quite dramatically compared with the same period in 2019 with the number of foreign tourists visiting 4,155 visits.

So far there are five countries with the highest number of visits to South Sulawesi, including Malaysia, Australia, Singapore, the United States, and Germany. The five countries were also listed as COVID-19 affected countries. The existence of a number of restrictions and even lockdowns, will certainly affect the movement of tourists from the country to visit South Sulawesi.

“We know that there are around 23 countries affected by COVID-19. We hope that this pandemic will soon pass so that social economic activities can return to normal as before,” Yos said.

Seeing this, the government must immediately take tactical steps. Although it cannot be predicted when this pandemic ends, a number of recovery steps must be prepared. Although not much can be done during the Covid-19 emergency response period, South Sulawesi Tourism Office has begun to compile a number of recovery steps.

Meawhile the Head of the South Sulawesi Tourism Office, Denny Irawan said the Tourism Office had brought together all stakeholders of the tourism industry. At the virtual meeting held some time ago, I gathered all the input and solutions that will be carried out during the recovery period later.

“Specifically for the recovery phase, the South Sulawesi Tourism and Culture Office will accommodate a virtual travel fair program that will also accommodate hospitality promo products to other creative economy products,” Denny noted.

In addition, he continued, his party has also synergized with stakeholders by opening a call center for South Sulawesi Care Tourism & Creative Economy Recovery through email and whatsapp number at 085 824 423 533. All proposals have been recorded and then proposed to Bappeda and South Sulawesi DPRD in the near future.

On the other hand, the South Sulawesi Tourism Office is likely to make revisions related to the number of foreign tourists visiting South Sulawesi in 2020. Although not yet able to mention the revised target, several events prepared this year are certain to be delayed.

“This year we set a target of 8 million tourist visits with details of 325,000 foreign tourists visiting each other and 7.7 million tourists visiting the archipelago (wisnus),” Denny concluded. []