INDONESIA NATIONAL TOURISM DEVELOPMENT 2021 & BEYOND

Source: https://www.islandsindonesia.id/, Oct. 17, 2020

Writer: Hendra Manurung is currently doctoral candidate in international relations at Padjadjaran University, Bandung, West Java

In early April 2020, when other domestic industrial sectors have not yet experienced stagnation due to the impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic, in fact, Indonesia’s national tourism industry has already been affected badly.

Meanwhile, in mid-January 2021, when other industrial sectors also began to tidy up and move forward unfortunately Indonesian domestic tourism industry again had to hit the brakes and move backward.

Indonesian Central Statistics Agency recorded that foreign tourist visits from January to November 2020 fell by 73.6 percent on an annual basis. Although the trend of monthly visits from September to November 2020 has increased, the majority of foreign citizens visiting Indonesia are not for vacation and travel trips, but for work-related visits or on business trips.

Meanwhile, based on data from the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy, the decline in foreign tourist arrivals during the global pandemic had an impact on the Indonesian tourism sector, which lost foreign exchange up to the US $ 15 billion (IDR 240 trillion).

The United Nations of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) declares that 2020 is the worst period in tourism historical development.

Global tourism has been badly affected and it is predicted that it will take from 2.5 to 4 years to recover immediately (2020 to 2023). It is likely that the global tourism sector will experience complete recovery in mid-2024. This scenario is based on the assumption that the transmission of the COVID-19 outbreak has been successfully controlled, vaccinations are effective, and policies between countries to begin opening doors to foreign tourists.

It is recognized that the turn of the year from 2020 to 2021 has brought new hope to the international community. Vaccines become available, followed by government policies in each country announcing the availability of free vaccinations for their citizens, and countries around the world also schedule massive vaccinations.

Early December 2020, based on UNWTO data, around 70 percent of world tourist destinations have relaxed restrictions on traveling abroad and hope that the national tourism sector will begin to revive gradually.

However, entering mid-January 2021, the emergence of a new variant of COVID-19 in Britain and South Africa, as well as an increase in domestic cases that reached up to 10,000 people affected by COVID-19, made the domestic tourism industry sector again have to be patient, wait and see in the middle global economic uncertainties.

In addition to the travel restriction policy that was re-implemented by almost all countries, in Indonesia, large-scale social restrictions were also re-implemented in the country from 11 to 25 January 2021. This central government policy was prioritized in a number of areas on the island of Java and Bali, which in particular still had the status of the red zone.

Apart from the state of health and the national economy that has not yet improved, the central government continues to set its target of pursuing the development of infrastructure and infrastructure and structuring tourism areas. The Indonesian government is also targeting foreign tourist visits in 2021 to reach 4 to 7 million people. This target has been lowered previously, which reached 18 million foreign tourists.

President Joko Widodo asked the Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy, Sandiaga Uno to immediately pursue the development of five national priority tourist destinations, namely: Borobudur, Labuan Bajo, Likupang, Mandalika, Toba Lake. Indonesian Ministry of Public Works and Public Housing has budgeted an allocation of around IDR 3.51 trillion to build infrastructure.

The destination development program called the ‘5 New Bali’ is designed by the central government in Jakarta to anticipate conditions of increasing foreign tourist visits before the global pandemic began to plague Indonesia on March 2, 2020. There are criticisms related to accelerating tourism infrastructure development that should not be a top priority for the central government in Indonesia amid the spread of a pandemic that still cannot be controlled in domestic tourist destinations.

Even though the tourism industry entrepreneurs and tourism sector workers are getting worse and more in need of social and financial assistance from the government to survive amid the outbreak of the pandemic.

In the midst of a limited budget, the government needs to determine priorities and emphasize a sense of crisis.

The realistic target is to maximize the stimulus and incentive budgets for the industry as well as the distribution of cash transfers for tourism sector workers.

Based on Indonesian Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy data, the national tourism sector absorbs 13 million workers in 2019 or 10.28 percent of the national workforce. So far, the social assistance schemes for workers are general in nature and are equalized for all sectors, not yet specific to each sector. Indonesian Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy plans to expand the provision of direct cash assistance specifically for the tourism sector and the creative economy will soon be realized. Likewise, the provision of grants for tourism industry entrepreneurs must be evaluated and expanded to make them more effective, targeted, and efficient.

The central government and national tourism stakeholders face a difficult dilemma. The government must be faced with a choice between survival and adaptation, economic recovery, or building infrastructure and infrastructure. The position of survival and adaptation must be the top priority while being serious about suppressing the spread of the virus and holding massive vaccinations. Hopefully, gradually, the recovery of the tourism sector can be carried out in line with the pandemic control which should be kept to a minimum.

The infrastructure development project is likely to be the final stage after the tourism sector begins to recover and requires gradual reform. It is believed that the results of the construction of a large-scale tourist destination can only be enjoyed after five to ten years. The presence or absence of a massive infrastructure project does not have a direct impact on the millions of people who are now having difficulty making a living.

In Indonesia, until now, COVID-19 pandemic has presented tough test, particularly in choosing which priorities to take for policy-makers and the best benefit for entire nation.

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