‘I’d rather face the virus than let the people die of hunger’: NTT governor to reopen tourist destinations on June 15

Praijing Village in West Sumba regency. Photo: East Nusa Tenggara provincial government.
Praijing Village in West Sumba regency. Photo: East Nusa Tenggara provincial government.

The governor of East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) says he would rather face the coronavirus rather than letting his citizens die of hunger, as his administration announces that tourist destinations in the province will begin reopening on June 15. 

“As governor, I don’t want this COVID-19 to be a reason for us not to work. We need to plant a fighting spirit to help make our people more prosperous. It doesn’t mean we ignore this virus, but if we stay fearful, the people will be the ones feeling the impact,” NTT Governor Viktor Laiskodat said.

“I’d rather choose facing this virus even with my own life at stake, rather than staying still and hiding and letting the people die of hunger.” 

Viktor said he is aware of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) guidelines on how governments ought to handle the coronavirus outbreak, but noted that such a thing is difficult to implement in NTT. 

“We are lacking everything here. From the budget, health facilities, even healthcare workers. This is why, once again I am asking all of us to return to normal activity. Let us go back to work,” he continued. 

In a press release, regional secretary of the NTT administration Marius Ardu Jelamu said popular destinations such as Komodo Island in West Manggarai regency, Wae Rebo village in Manggarai regency, as well as the islands of Rote, Alor, and Sumba, are among the destinations that tourists can visit beginning June 15. 

“Regencies with popular tourist destinations should start anticipating an increasing number of visitors, because it should be expected that the region will receive many travelers,” Marius said. 

Officials in the province reportedly decided on the matter after a recent virtual conference, which saw members of provincial, regencies, and city administrations in attendance. With NTT set to restart government services on June 15, the reopening of tourism was viewed as important to support the regional economy, both for the sake of ordinary citizens and businesses. 

Though Indonesia recorded its first cases of the coronavirus on March 2, NTT only confirmed its first case in April. As of today, NTT has recorded 85 cases of COVID-19, which includes nine recoveries and one death.

 

Read more news and updates from Bali here.

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