Hope On The Horizon For Tourism Industry
The first doses of Covid-19 vaccine arrived in Indonesia this week offering hope to struggling families and businesses across the archipelago. Unfortunately, Indonesians are experiencing Southeast Asia’s worst surge in COVID-19 cases.
As many as 1.2 million doses of the vaccine arrived late on Sunday and the government expects to receive another shipment of 1.8 million in early January, according to Indonesian President Joko Widodo.
Indonesia has the highest number of coronavirus cases in Southeast Asia at more than half a million. More than 17,000 people have died from the disease. The government aims to provide free vaccination for as many as 120 million Indonesians. Those on the front lines of the pandemic, including healthcare workers, police, military and public servants, will receive the first 3 million doses this month. At the moment, the plan does not account for more than half of the nation’s population.
So far, Indonesia has announced 502,110 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in all 34 provinces and in 505 out of 514 districts/municipalities. The nation has confirmed 16,002 deaths. The actual number is likely much higher.
The doses arrived in Jakarta Sunday. Distributing the vaccine across thousands of tropical islands will be a monumental challenge. The government transported the doses by refrigerated trucks to the city of Bandung. The journey will take much longer and be more complex for regions beyond Java.
Indonesia’s tourism industry faces tough challenges in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The tourism industry has incurred more than $7 billion (USD) in losses since last March. The number of foreign visitors to Indonesia in October this year, though picking up 4.57 percent from the previous month, showed a decrease of 88.25 percent from the same period last year to 158,200, according to the country’s statistics agency BPS.
Statistics from the Indonesian Hotels and Restaurants Association showed that the sector shrank 11.86 percent in October year on year. About 78.5 percent of hotel workers lost their jobs even though tourism resumed on July in Bali.
Deputy chairman of PHRI Maulana Yusran said hotels now mainly serve domestic travellers, noting hotels in Bali reported the lowest occupancy rate in the country in October, equivalent to only 9.53 percent of the rate in October 2019.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, Indonesia expected to welcome 18 million foreign visitors in 2020, compared to 16.1 million international arrivals in 2019.
In the first 10 months of 2020, only 3.72 million foreign visitors made it to Indonesia, down 72.35 percent from 2019.
Residents and businesses on Bali are hoping that the coronavirus vaccine will help them rebuild confidence in travel and lure tourists back to their island. The Indonesian government is pursuing several initiatives to revive tourism, including investing $972.6 million (USD) in businesses and issuing cleanliness, health, safety and environmental sustainability certification for service providers in the industry. The country hopes to welcome 13-14 million foreign tourists in 2021. Indonesia has set up tourism corridors with China, Singapore and the Republic of Korea. It’s pursuing a similar agreement with Japan.