STATISTICS Indonesia (BPS)-Aceh Office has recorded no foreign tourist arrivals in the province since early this year on account of travel restrictions for international travelers in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

According to BPS-Aceh Office head Ihsanurrijal said in Banda Aceh, the capital of Aceh province said in February, 2020, BPS recorded 4,030 foreign tourist arrivals in Aceh, but in February this year, there were no arrivals. Thus, the enforcement of restrictions on international flights and sea transportation has resulted in the absence of foreign tourist arrivals in Aceh.

He explained, in February last year, the countries that contributed to foreign tourist arrivals in Aceh were Malaysia, China, France, Germany, Australia, Japan, the United States, Singapore, United Kingdom, and Thailand, among others.

“The cumulative figure of foreign travelers visiting the province in January and February, 2020 was recorded at 8,012 people. Majority of them were Malaysian citizens. Aceh, Indonesia’s westernmost province, lies on the northernmost tip of Sumatra Island. It is rich in historical and cultural heritage objects as well as natural beauty,” he said.

Ihsanurrijal added that the city of Sabang, for instance, is renowned for its well-protected forest, “kilometer-zero” monument representing Indonesia’s starting point, sandy beaches, and underwater beauty, with abundant snorkeling and diving spots.

“Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sabang was one of the popular tourist destinations on Sumatra Island among domestic and foreign visitors as well as international sailors. Located on Weh Island, Sabang has been frequented by tourists, including those aboard international cruise ships and yachts,” he noted.

Aceh and other provinces, he continued have been striving to win the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic since the Indonesian government officially announced the country’s first cases on March 2, 2020. The government has rolled out a nationwide vaccination program this year to arrest the spread of infections. [antaranews/photo special]