‘Booming’ tourism in 2021? Jokowi says he’s convinced COVID-19 pandemic will only last until end of year

President Joko Widodo during a video conference. Photo: Cabinet Secretariat
President Joko Widodo during a video conference. Photo: Cabinet Secretariat

President Joko Widodo says he’s convinced that the COVID-19 pandemic will be resolved by the end of this year and adds that he is expecting tourism to take off in 2021. 

“I am convinced this [pandemic] will only be until the end of the year. Next year tourism will be booming,” Jokowi said during a video conference yesterday, as quoted in a statement issued by the Cabinet Secretariat.  

According to the president, this is high time for Indonesia to prepare for the massive boom after COVID-19, noting how people will be looking to travel after months of staying at home. 

“Everyone is yearning to go out, people want to enjoy the beauty of tourism and so this is the optimism that we must continue to build on,” he said. 

A similar sentiment was echoed by Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Wishnutama Kusubandio, who says his ministry will work on renovating various facilities in the country’s top tourist destinations in preparation for the expected travel boom. 

“Right now we are renewing some designs, such as in traditional markets. In the toilets, road access, so that visitors will have a more comfortable experience,” Wishnutama said, adding that tourism recovery is possible when connectivity returns to normal. 

This isn’t the first instance of optimism coming from Indonesian officials, who curiously appear to have a positive outlook on the tourism sector, which has been badly hit as leisure travel comes to a near complete halt across the globe.

Earlier this week, Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Pandjaitan said the government will target tourists from countries that are “swiftly recovering” from the COVID-19 outbreak, namely China, South Korea, and Japan, in the next couple of months. 

The government previously came under fire for rolling out tourism incentives to entice visitors when Indonesia had no confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Current state of tourism

The Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI) reported that as of April 13, more than 1,600 hotels in 31 provinces across Indonesia were forced to close due to the coronavirus outbreak. Most of the hotels are located in West Java and Bali. 

In Bali, the number of workers furloughed and laid off continue to increase, with officials recording more than 48,000 and 1,100, respectively, as of yesterday.

According to data from the Central Statistics Agency (BPS), Indonesia recorded 2.16 million foreign tourist arrivals from January to February, showcasing a drop of 11.8 percent from the 2.45 million tourists recorded over the same period last year. 

Meanwhile, Indonesia’s COVID-19 caseload has grown exponentially since its first cases in early March. The archipelago recorded 380 additional confirmed cases yesterday, bringing the national total to 5,516. This includes 113 positive COVID-19 cases in Bali.

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