Indonesian influencers get flak for traveling to Labuan Bajo amid pandemic

Screengrab: TikTok
Screengrab: TikTok

Is it a good idea to travel for leisure within Indonesia amid the pandemic? One might dare say yes, if we’re solely judging by the slew of social media posts from many Indonesian influencers and celebrities who have been sharing their recent travels, be it to Bali or elsewhere in the country. But as there are two sides to every coin, many other Indonesians are not shying away from calling out these influencers on their apparent ignorance.

One particular TikTok video has gained more than 1.8 million views since it was uploaded two days ago and even reshared on other platforms, where user @Frterannotamba used the “duet” feature on TikTok to call out a group of influencers who posted their recent travel to Labuan Bajo, East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) via @wiwelgeng account.

In his video, @Frterannotamba says he’s from NTT, and reminded the group how they were coming in from high-risk zones in Indonesia and therefore posing risks to the local residents. 

“Please remember, you are coming from red zones, even if you passed the rapid test, you could contract the virus on your journey and infect the local people there … Remember, NTT’s health facilities are extremely limited,” @Frterannotamba said. 

“Don’t sacrifice others for the sake of money, content and your individual pleasure. Remember that.”

The original video posted by @wiwelgeng has also gained more than 1.1 million views on TikTok, though a majority of the comments are filled with those supporting people to stay at home amid the pandemic.

“For those of you who are staying at home, you are super cool!”

“I thought you guys are influencers? Why are you giving the wrong example, I’m confused.” 

Similar comments also appeared on other videos posted by the rest of the group, including those from @baldybrobryzxz, who has 2.9 million followers on TikTok alone. 

To be fair, this latest group of influencers are certainly not the first ones to travel in Indonesia during the pandemic, nor are they breaking any law as domestic travel is still permitted in the country. In fact, prior to Bali reopening domestic tourism in July, a bunch of influencers had encouraged “new travel habits” on a campaign promoting Indonesian tourism. Since then, new travel posts from Indonesian influencers and celebrities are not hard to come by. 

Many users online have highlighted @Frterannotamba’s bravery in calling out what appears to be blatant ignorance, and the user himself has since addressed the agency, identified as Anjani Trip, who reportedly invited out the group to visit NTT at this time. In another TikTok video, @Frterannotamba noted the lack of health protocols observed by the influencers, and urged them to not only promote the destinations, but also educate potential travelers on precautions. 

In the social media age we live in today, it’s hard to regard these choices as simply “work,” especially when the people involved have large-enough followings to actually have an influence. On top of that, the pandemic is not going away anytime soon and Indonesia, with 4,176 additional daily cases recorded yesterday, is still very much struggling to get this crisis under any semblance of control.

Though times are hard for everyone, shouldn’t we be doing our best to keep everyone safe and healthy?

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