AFTER reviewing I Gusti Ngurah Rai Airport during his first working visit to Bali, the Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy, Sandiaga Salahuddin Uno immediately moved quickly to invite tourism businesses to discuss the obstacles faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, in order to formulate strategic steps going forward.

“I would like to hear from tourism actors and stakeholders about the obstacles faced during this challenging situation, namely COVID-19. I understand that all stakeholders in the tourism sector experience many difficulties,” Sandiaga said.

He explained that many people in Bali Province lost their jobs, livelihoods, reduced income, ate savings. In addition, enter now into the manset (makan dari jual hasil aset) period or eat from selling the proceeds of assets. Therefore, we must ensure that we move quickly, so that the tourism sector and the creative economy in Bali can survive policies that are full of innovation, adaptation and collaboration.

Meanwhile, Chairman of IINTOA (Indonesia Inbound Tour Operators Association), Paul Edmundus Talo, said there were several obstacles we faced. First, IINTOA has been without work for 10 months, only spending money, because some employees are still there, even though some have been sent home.

“Expenditures continue, while there is no income. Therefore, through the Deputy for Investment of the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy, Fadjar Hutomo, we are trying to request that there be tourism grant funds for other tourism actors such as travel agents who bring in tourists to have the opportunity to receive grant funds,” Paul noted.

He added, secondly, we hope that the borders or borders will be opened immediately so that tourism activities will be active again. We fully understand that this policy is not only from the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy, but must work in synergy with related ministries/institutions. However, I hope that through the Tourism Minister, we can ensure that hotels and restaurants, as well as industries in this sector, can be helped and revived.

Furthermore, Paul explained that the third obstacle is visas. IINTOA yearns for a VoA (visa on arrival), for example countries close to Indonesia, such as Thailand and Malaysia, which immediately open their borders, thus bringing in tourists with their VoA. According to him, this is very helpful for tourism business players.

He continued that in Bali, IINTOA will hold another Bali and Beyond Travel Fair event, which is the largest tourism promotion event in Indonesia. This event is an international marketplace that buyers in the tourism sector will participate in from various countries. It is hoped that this activity can seize opportunities to develop tourism in Indonesia.

“This activity is planned to take place in June 2021. Therefore, we hope that the Ministry of Tourism will be willing to support us in holding this event. Finally, we hope to have clear data. He wants to know how many travel agents have officially issued permits by the government. Because we want to invite the travel agency to cooperate with IINTOA.

Likewise, the Head of the Bali Provincial Tourism Office, Putu Astawa, said that this dialogue really gave enthusiasm and energy to stakeholders in the tourism sector. The character of the Balinese people who are very inspiring, because of their strong solidarity and collaboration, and having extraordinary psychological awareness, this can raise the tourism industry and the creative economy.

“The community and government must really come together and collaborate to make tourists feel safe and calm in facing the COVID-19 pandemic,” he concluded. []