‘Booming’ tourism in 2021? Jokowi says he’s convinced COVID-19 pandemic will only last until end of year
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.
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 185 additional confirmed cases yesterday, bringing the national total to 6,760. This includes 135 cases in Bali. (Coconuts.com 20/04/2020)
Indonesia aims to attract tourists from China, South Korea as quick recovery in tourism sector possible: minister
One of Indonesia’s top officials is considerably optimistic for the near-future of the country’s tourism sector, with the government reportedly planning to attract travelers from countries which are “swiftly recovering” from the COVID-19 outbreak.
Luhut Pandjaitan, who is the coordinating minister for maritime affairs and investment, said during a press conference yesterday that the government will be targeting tourists from China, South Korea, and Japan in the next couple of months.
“We are paying serious attention to tourism, but we need to take a look at [the situation] now. China has been swiftly recovering, so they are already starting. South Korea and Japan [will follow] in one or two months, which means their tourists will want to leave [for travel] after being stressed for months,” Luhut said, as quoted by Kompas. Indonesia began suspending all foreign arrivals, barring a few exceptions, earlier this month, joining a list of other countries around the globe in adopting strict travel restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19. The government previously came under fire for rolling out tourism incentives to entice visitors when Indonesia had no confirmed COVID-19 case.
As Bali is one of the country’s top tourist destinations, Luhut said the island will be one of the main highlights to attract foreign travelers. “We will prepare all regions. Such as Bali, we will quickly work so that it’s even better. They are working on a test kit at Udayana [University],” Luhut said, alluding that the kits will be used to test COVID-19 for incoming foreign tourists in the future. The government has yet to announce incentives for the tourism sector, but Luhut reportedly reassured that COVID-19 recoveries from those three countries will positively impact Indonesia’s tourism. At least 46,000 formal workers have been furloughed and 800 laid off in Bali, according to the latest data from Bali’s Manpower Agency. Officials expect the number to continue climbing in the coming weeks.
Some hotels in Bali have moved to suspend operations entirely, while a few have rolled out cheap promotions on long-term stays to attract potential customers. In addition, tourist destinations across the island have also been closed as part of the provincial government’s official advisory to tackle COVID-19. (Coconuts.com 20/04/2020)
Officer uses tractor to disperse crowd in Bali’s Kedonganan Beach
Local authorities reportedly used an amusingly unconventional method to disperse the crowd in Kedonganan Beach recently, after some people evidently ignored the closures of local beaches to curb the spread of COVID-19 in Bali.
In one particular photo that has garnered attention on social media, an officer appears to have hopped on a tractor that is moving along the beach to shoo away beachgoers. As captioned by Detik, the beachgoers appear to be foreigners who had been sunbathing. The tractor scene was captured by a photographer from state news agency Antara, Fikri Yusuf.
The officer in the photo, who has not been identified, reportedly went on a patrol in Kedonganan Beach with a mobile loudspeaker, announcing that people had to leave the area because it was closed to the public. This particular beach, like others across Bali, has been closed to the public as part of an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19 on the island. Local officials said access is only allowed for fishing and religious ceremonies for the time being. Reports of people ignoring social distancing advisory are becoming more common recently, with foreigners and local residents alike having evidently ignored official calls to stay at home. Last weekend, a party thrown by a group of foreign nationals in Bali went viral for ignoring social distancing, sparking outrage from Indonesian netizens and eventually requiring four of them to report to authorities.(Coconuts.com 19/04/2020)
7 infected with coronavirus after Australian couple’s Bali wedding in March, authorities confirm
Australian health authorities last month confirmed seven cases of COVID-19, traced back to a wedding that reportedly took place in Bali on March 21, days after Prime Minister Scott Morrison urged Australians to avoid traveling overseas.
On March 27, the New South Wales government confirmed in their daily COVID-19 statistics that “seven cases have been confirmed from a wedding in Bali,” two of whom are local residents of the southeastern Australian state while five others are interstate residents. With the story going viral today and picked up by local and international news outlets, we couldn’t help but do a little internet sleuthing, which brought us to the bride’s social media accounts. There, we found wedding photos posted from around late March, which geotagged Villa Shalimar in Canggu.
The bride posted a public photo of the wedding ceremony on Facebook on March 21, along with the caption: “Marrying in the most beautiful Bali villa with some of our nearest and dearest!”
From the photo, it appears that the wedding was attended by at least two dozen people. It is unclear whether the newlyweds were among the confirmed cases, though reports from Australian news outlets suggest that those who were infected were guests. Those reports also say that the newlyweds invited some 120 people to the wedding, but it seems most did not show up due to the pandemic. Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a level-three travel advice on March 13 for the country, urging Australians to reconsider travel as the risks of the coronavirus continued to escalate. At the time, Australia had confirmed COVID-19 cases in every one of its states and territories.
The Australian government then updated their travel restriction to the highest level on March 18, telling its citizens: “do not travel overseas.” (coconuts.com 20/04/2020)
Denpasar traditional village authorities propose Large-Scale Social Restrictions for the city
Traditional village authorities in Denpasar are proposing that the Denpasar city government implement the central government’s Large-scale Social Restrictions (PSBB) protocol, as the city records the highest number of positive COVID-19 cases compared to other regions in Bali.
“Looking at the positive cases in Denpasar, I suggest that Denpasar implements PSBB. PSBB itself doesn’t require any budget nor include any obligation of providing daily needs to the residents, it’s different from a lockdown,” said Wayan Subawa, chief of Pagan traditional village, during a meeting in Denpasar today. Wayan Dudik Mahendra, an official from Sesetan traditional village, reportedly echoed a similar sentiment during the meeting.
“Based on what I have seen in Denpasar everything looks the same, as if there is no COVID-19, the streets are still crowded, and we see near the traffic lights how many residents are out and about,” Dudik said, as quoted by Tribun. He added how patrols in Sesetan just this morning found that 240 people were not wearing masks.
As of today, Bali has confirmed 140 COVID-19 cases, 32 of which are patients treated in Denpasar. Denpasar Mayor Ida Bagus Rai Mantra welcomed the suggestion, but said that such an approach would require more assessment.
“This is my question: will it be effective if it’s just Denpasar implementing PSBB, considering how local transmissions are occurring in almost all regions in Bali?” Rai Mantra was quoted as saying.
Bali Governor Wayan Koster today reiterated how Bali has no need to implement PSBB just yet, considering the relatively low number of local transmissions cases in the province. “The update in Bali as of April 19, there are only 25 cases of local transmission. If we look at the day-to-day developments, there are only one, two, three or four additional cases, no local transmission,” Koster said, adding that most cases in Bali are imported cases.
He also explains that PSBB involves a number of requirements, such as a large number of cases and exponential growth, and that the return of many migrant workers from abroad due to the coronavirus outbreak has also contributed to an increasing number of COVID-19 cases for the island. (coconuts.com 20/04/2020)
Government finally passes IMEI regulation to block ‘illegal’ cellphones in Indonesia, set to take effect in 19 April 2020
The government issued a regulation requiring all smartphones to be stamped with a unique 15-digit international mobile equipment identity, or IMEI, registered to a government database by 19 April 2020, in an attempt to curb illegal smartphone imports. Under the regulation, local mobile operators will deny service to all devices not registered with the government database.
“I thank the three ministries that have worked together to integrate their rules. All of us are looking to ensure the government does not lose any revenue from cellphone sales,” Communication and Information Technology Minister said to Antara news agency.
The three ministries are the Communication and Information Technology Ministry, the Industry Ministry and the Trade Ministry. Users will still be able to use cellphones that have already been activated before the regulation comes into effect.
The government has set up a website to allow people to check whether their device has a registered IMEI or not.
Beginning last year, Indonesia has successfully forced manufacturers’ hand to start assembling their smartphones in Indonesian factories using locally made components.
Smartphone giants Samsung, Apple, Xiaomi and Oppo had little choice but to comply with the government’s request since all of them want a slice of the huge Indonesian smartphone market, currently estimated to have more than 171 million mobile internet users. But, lax border control is allowing illegal – and cheaper – smartphones to continue to flood the country’s black market, undermining the manufacturers’ investment.
One government estimation says one in five smartphones in Indonesia is illegal. While the government currently does not slap import tax on smartphones bought overseas, people buying them still need to pay a value-added tax of 10 percent and a deductible income tax of 7.5 percent according to customs regulation. (Jakartaglobe.com 20/04/2020)