EVEN THOUGH the pandemic is not over yet and a new variant of COVID-19, Omicron, has appeared in Indonesia, the tourism industry is still optimistic that it will be able to revive and begin to recover in 2022. The world of tourism is one of the stumbling blocks due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has lasted for two years.

Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Airlangga Hartarto said the government provided incentives and a budget of IDR4.55 trillion to support the tourism sector and the creative economy. The budget and incentives are given to encourage tourism activities, one of which is through international events in the country. For example, the Mandalika International Circuit Superbike and the G20 Summit.

Airlangga said the process to recover it cannot be instant. It takes stages to get through challenges, such as consistent application of standards in the health, security, and environmental sustainability sectors throughout the community.

The keywords that continue to be echoed to revive the economy from the COVID-19 pandemic, including tourism, are collaboration and coordination between institutions.

The Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association is optimistic that the tourism industry can begin to thrive in the second quarter of 2022 after omicron cases are expected to decline in Indonesia and the situation will return to being more conducive.

People who are used to the new normal and trying to learn from other countries that have begun to “make peace” with the virus can help tourism recover.

Indonesia is starting to “warm up” with a pilot project for the inaugural international flight service to Bali for foreign travelers (PPLN) which has been effective on February 4, 2022.

This project was carried out carefully and with full vigilance because it coincided with an increase in cases of the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 variant. The Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy initiated a warm up vacation program as a more innovative quarantine model with a bubble system, where travelers quarantine activities are not limited to rooms, but in areas dedicated to bubbles.

While waiting for the situation to recover, tourism actors are invited not to sit idly by. Starting from hotels to restaurants, they are asked to clean up and maintain the quality of products and services in order to maintain the trust of tourists from within and outside the country.

Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan emphasized that maintaining the quality of hotel and restaurant services is important because the growth of the tourism industry also affects other businesses in the vicinity.

Mass tourism, which is visited by large numbers of tourists, is an example of how tourism has a major impact on the surrounding environment. Not only the managers of tourist attractions who get a profit, there are also parties who are splashed with sustenance such as stall traders, souvenir vendors to parking attendants.

Maintaining service quality and visitor trust can start from implementing hygiene and health standards so that they can get CHSE (Cleanliness, Health, Safety & Environment Sustainability) certification from the government.

Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy Sandiaga Uno also emphasized the importance of ensuring cleanliness, health and environmental sustainability in order to increase public trust.

On the online travel agency platform, cleanliness has become one of the determining factors for consumers in choosing a vacation spot. Since the pandemic began, online travel agencies have launched features containing accommodation curation that have guaranteed cleanliness and safety.

The international event held in Indonesia is a great opportunity to re-start the wheel of tourism. Motorcycle racing at the Mandalika circuit, Lombok, for example, will attract people to come there, helping to increase the occupancy rate of hotels which have been sluggish due to COVID-19.

The President Director of PT Aviasi Wisata Indonesia or InJourney as the holding company for Tourism and Supporting BUMN, Dony Oskaria, emphasized the magnitude of the impact of the MotoGP event at the Mandalika Circuit, Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara.

The area began to be enlivened by hundreds of crews and riders for the pre-season MotoGP test which will take place on February 11-13. Dony said the prestigious event made hotels filled with visitors and had a positive impact on other tourism players.

An event, said Dony, has a direct and indirect impact on the tourism industry. The direct benefits can be felt by hotels to restaurants visited by tourists. The indirect impact is promotion thanks to the exposure of the media at home and abroad.

Not to mention uploading photos or videos of activities in Lombok that are uploaded on social media accounts of celebrities. One of the things that became a topic of discussion on social media timelines was when netizens found out that French racer Fabio Quartararo had stopped by a cell phone counter in Kuta Mandalika, Central Lombok, to buy a SIM card.

Positive postings from other racers who captured their moments in Lombok were also warmly welcomed by Indonesian netizens, as well as being expected to be a free promotional event for Mandalika for their followers on social media.

This opportunity must of course be accompanied by the classic formula to be safe during a pandemic, which is to always maintain health protocols with the discipline of eating masks, washing hands, keeping a distance and not when it is not necessary. On the other hand, the implementation of COVID-19 vaccination in Indonesia is also continuously encouraged so that all levels of society are better protected from the virus. [antaranews/photo special]