FEARS of a spike in cases and the potential for a third wave of COVID-19 have prompted the government to implement Level-3 Community Activity Restrictions (PPKM) during the 2021-2022 Christmas and New Year celebrations. Travel bureaus as tourism players also understand and support these policies for the success of overcoming the pandemic in Indonesia.
“We see that this policy was carried out by the government to prevent the increase in the number of COVID-19 spreads at the end of the year,” said Pegipegi’s Senior Corporate Communications Manager, Busyra Oryza.
It is predicted that the restrictions will have a slight effect on tourism, but he is still optimistic that people who have undergone the second year of the pandemic have understood the health protocols. This optimism is also driven by the prevalence of vaccination rates.
“This will make people more protected if they want to travel, of course, by complying with all the regulations set out in the PPKM policy,” said Busyra.
Meanwhile, Traveloka Head of Corporate Communications, Reza Amirul Juniarshah, said that his party cannot speculate whether the policy will affect tourism development because it will only be implemented at the end of next month. However, they are confident and fully support the government’s efforts in suppressing cases of COVID-19 transmission, which is expected to further reduce the number of positive cases in the country.
“With the decline in positive cases of COVID-19, the national economic recovery will improve, including for the domestic tourism sector,” said Reza.
The online travel agency tiket.com also shows support for the government’s efforts to suppress the spread of COVID-19. The PPKM level 3 policy during the holiday period which is usually awaited by tourism actors is believed to be the best step for the common interest.
“For us, nothing is more important than the health and safety of the Indonesian people, wherever they are,” said Public Relations Manager of tiket.com, Sandra Darmosumarto.
Sandra said the revival of national tourism can only be realized when vaccination rates increase and the spread of COVID-19 decreases.
The year-end holiday period is usually a “harvest” period for travel agents, both conventional and online. Deputy Chairperson of the Indonesian Travel Agent Association (ASTINDO) Anton Sumarli also understands the government’s decision to welcome the year-end long holiday for business consistency going forward.
“Hopefully, there won’t be another explosion (case) in January, February, which makes tightening again so that business is more difficult,” said Anton.
End of year enthusiasm
At the online travel agency Pegipegi, there has been an increase in website traffic and bookings towards the end of the year. Promotions that are intensified by online travel agencies also attract the attention of consumers who are looking for hotels to transportation at affordable prices. Meanwhile, Traveloka’s internal data shows that the trend of booking airline tickets, hotels and tourist attractions is quite stable.
The public’s desire to return to travel can also be seen from the enthusiasm of the virtual tour exhibition held by ASTINDO in early November. Digital literacy is an effort for conventional travel agents to be able to balance online travel agencies that offer practicality through devices.
According to Anton, the interest and sales from the tourist exhibition which involved dozens of travel agents and six airlines showed positive results. People show interest in traveling not only to domestic destinations, but also to foreign countries.
“The enthusiasm has returned to normal; revenge tourism has started to show. Transactions of tourists who intend to go abroad are fairly high because the tourist destinations that can be visited are still limited. On average, it is a country that is relatively far from Indonesia, so the ticket is also more expensive,” Anton remarked.
In the past, he continued that many people went to Singapore, now they want to or not to America, Turkey, Dubai, Europe, so the value is also great, the enthusiasm is high.
Super priority destinations that are predicted by the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy are also getting more attention, including Mandalika, which has just hosted the World Superbike event. Nevertheless, favorite destinations are still held by places that have long been prima donna, such as the islands of Bali, Lombok and Labuan Bajo.
In accordance with changing consumer preferences, tourists are now considering health protocols as an important factor before traveling.
With this change in consumer behavior, online travel agencies provide programs that make it easier for consumers to find accommodations that meet health protocols to special pages containing information on travel requirements for both air and land transportation.
In order to support safe travel in the midst of the new normal, travel agencies also share safe travel education to consumers through their communication channels.
Sandra said that tiket.com’s focus at the end of this year is not only to present promotions for travel, but also to be a window for the latest information regarding regulations in various destinations or destinations for the Indonesian people, both at home and abroad.
Learning from last year’s experience, one of the causes of the emergence of a new wave of COVID-19 is the increase in community mobility without heeding health protocols, she said. Her party invites people who want to visit public areas to comply with health protocols and choose tourist attractions that have used PeduliLindungi application for access screening.
“Let’s take care together so that the achievements of the Indonesian people in reducing the number of cases in the last few months do not disappear because of negligence,” Sandra concluded. [antaranews/photo special]