THE world of tourism in Indonesia seems to be suspended animation during the COVID-19 pandemic. When the pandemic hit March 2020, Traveloka noted that foreign tourists who came to Indonesia recorded a decrease of up to 65% which resulted in the closure of at least more than 2,000 hotels and more than 8,000 restaurants.

Meanwhile, Pegipegi platform also experienced a downturn, but they noted that there was a recovery of up to 60% at the end of 2020. There was a decline in tourism sector revenue of around IDR59.1 trillion to IDR86 trillion.

Especially on the flight ticket booking platform and hotels Traveloka, the number of users decreased by 70%. Requests for refunds also jumped to thousands per minute. If this situation continues, it is possible that Indonesia’s tourism sector will never wake up from its sleep.

Moreover, the tourism sector has so far had a large contribution to gross domestic product (GDP), approximately 5.5% of the total IDR280 trillion GDP. On the other hand, the tourism sector absorbs up to 10% of the workforce of the 12.7 million workforce.

Not wanting to linger into a long sleep, the government immediately took action. Around July 2020, the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy published a guidebook on health protocols in the hotel and restaurant sector to provide guaranteed high hygiene, health, safety and environmental sustainability for tourists.

The government even replaced Tourism Minister Wishnutama Kusubandio and assigned Sandiaga Uno to immediately step on the gas with his work program slogans.

“Tourism is the sector most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, so we have to accelerate, rush and gaspol, there is no other way than to participate in the implementation of Cleanliness, Health, Safety and Environmental Sustainability (CHSE) in every aspect of tourism, the tourism economy and the creative economy,” Sandiaga said.

According to Sandiaga, moving fast, while is moving faster together, exploiting all the potential to revive and sustain the tourism industry. Meanwhile, fastest limit is working on all the existing potential jobs.

However, Sandiaga is well aware that there is a need for a balanced and simultaneous recovery between health and preparation for the rise of the tourism economy and the creative economy as part of the economic pillars to continue the national economy.

Since being appointed by President Jokowi, Sandiaga Uno has received a special mandate to focus on developing tourism and the creative economy in Indonesia’s five super priority destinations, namely Lake Toba, Likupang, Borobudur, Mandalika, and Labuan Bajo.

One of the strategies that Sandiaga has taken in carrying out his duties is through innovation, adaptation and collaboration. The innovation strategy is carried out using a big data approach to map the potential and strengthen various aspects of the tourism sector and the creative economy.

Innovation will also be the basis for the development of super priority destinations in one year which include culinary, clothing, dance, and infrastructure.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Sandiaga also continued the Wishnutama adaptation program which encouraged all tourism actors to adapt by meeting the requirements of the Cleanliness, Healthy, Safety and Environmental Sustainability (CHSE) protocol. Even Sandiaga is also rumored to be moving his office to Bali to monitor tourism developments in the area. Bali, the tourism capital of Indonesia, is a yardstick for the rise of tourism and Indonesia’s creative economy, and therefore needs to be monitored carefully.

Tourism in 2021
Likewise Busyra Oryza, Corporate Communications Manager, Pegipegi said he was optimistic about the development of domestic tourism in 2021.

“Domestic travel will quickly recover and the trend of staycation will increase. Several factors that will bring back public confidence in traveling are the rampant spread of COVID-19, the distribution of vaccines, and implementation of health protocols in tourist attractions and hotels,” he said.

In line with Pegipegi, Traveloka predicts staycation will still be a tourist trend in 2021. In addition, trips using their own vehicles, road trips, will also be the choice of the community in traveling. The availability of the COVID-19 vaccine in Indonesia is predicted to drive the popularity of out-of-town destinations this year.

Welcoming 2021, Indonesia’s tourism world will rise. Various parties including the ticket booking platform are starting to clean up.

“We collaborate with many stakeholders such as hotel and airline partners to ensure safety and cleanliness as well as the application of health protocols in order to increase public confidence in traveling safely,” said Busyra explaining that Pegipegi already has a Clean & Safe filter feature to make it easier for customers to find hotels/accommodation that has implemented health protocols.

Meanwhile, Traveloka launched a number of innovations including OnlineXperience, which offers more than 100 unique sessions designed to encourage users to continue to enjoy free time at home with their families, which has been used by more than 100,000 users.

Traveloka Eats Delivery, which was launched in October 2020, offers food delivery services from more than 200 favorite restaurants to users’ homes. Then, Traveloka also launched its newest product, Traveloka COVID-19 Test, which can be accessed through Traveloka Xperience to help users carry out polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests and rapid tests.

Apart from these innovations, Traveloka also launched the Clean Partners campaign to help partners implement health protocols and assist users in making their choice. Since August 2020, Traveloka users can use CleanAccommodation to choose accommodation that meets the CHSE Protocol recommended by WHO and the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy.

To date, more than 1,000 partners in 90 cities have applied the protocol. Traveloka also launched CleanTrip Bus & Shuttle to provide extra protection for passengers while on the trip.

Collaborating with more than 20 partners, this program has attracted more than 36,000 users since its launch in July 2020. Finally, the CleanXperience service helps users select more than 1,000 partners from 12 industry types in over 64 cities who have committed to implementing protocol standards such as social restrictions, officers wearing protective equipment, and checking the body temperature of employees and visitors.

Enthusiasm of the traveler
The people who likes traveling, Nicholas Saputra, said he was optimistic about the stretching of tourism in 2021, although he still reminded all parties to prioritize health protocols to prevent the spread of the corona virus.

“At times like this, refreshing is indeed coveted. Usually, if we travel to a location where there is an attraction for people to gather, for example to watch a concert, this time try to find tourist locations that are just inside the city or outside the city that are not far from town where you live. But in my opinion, the priority is healthy first, then traveling again, we all want a gentle pandemic curve,” Nicholas noted.

In line with Nicholas, travel hobbyist Wella Diniati also admitted that this year she will continue to carry out her hobby of traveling, especially in Indonesia, despite implementing strict health protocols and adjusting travel budgets.

“According to my experience by visiting several places during the pandemic, health protocols have been carried out well by tourism actors. Especially with the provision of COVID-19 free letters in the form of an antigen test, it has convinced me to return to traveling in Indonesia. The problem is that you have to budget more for traveling preparation, paying for a rapid test of IDR180 thousand to IDR350 thousand one way is also not bad,” said Wella, who prefers traveling domestically rather than abroad.

Wella, who works in the information technology sector, hopes that the government will review the price of the tests required for travel.

“Now there is Genose, will that be a solution? The hope is that the government can help worry about this price, because the destination is definitely also waiting for visitors while visitors are also thinking about spending extra funds for tests,” Wella added.

Nicholas Saputra suggested that careful traveling planning during a pandemic is very important. Try research to identify exciting staycation places in the city. I also suggest limiting interactions with people outside of family members when traveling during a pandemic. For example, with a roadtrip using a private vehicle or renting a villa or house that guarantees more privacy.

Meanwhile, Wella said that bringing extra clothes when traveling during a pandemic is very important. Besides, of course, we bring masks, vitamins, hand sanitisers, portable disinfectants, the most important thing is to bring extra clothes so that we can immediately change them if we want to go to another destination. The clothes that have been used then we fold and put them in plastic for our later shower. and clothes are washed in the room. [antaranews/photo special]