Growing Tourism without Increasing COVID-19 reports that the Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment, Luhut Binsat Pandjaitan, has expressed delight and relief that, following the reopening of domestic tourism in Banyuwangi, East Java and Bali, the accompanying infection rates for COVID-19 in both destinations remain under control. At the same time, the number of those declared cured has increased in both Bali and Banyuwangi.

Minister Pandjaitan happily shared: “These are examples that need to be emulated. I was worried that with the reopening of tourism, Bali’s number of positive cases of COVID-19 would increase. But this was (fortunately) not the case.”

The Minister’s comments were made during a webinar on how to accelerate the reactivation of Indonesia’s tourism sector held on Wednesday, 12 August 2020. 

Luhut explained that the coronavirus had a devastating impact on Indonesia’s tourism sector. This was reflected in both a decline in tourism visitors and decreased foreign exchange earnings. 

Underlining this severity of the situation, Luhur pointed to May 2020 when the National Tourism Agency (BPS) recorded that tourist trips declined by almost 100% compared with the preceding months. Meanwhile, Bank Indonesia (BI) reports that foreign exchange earnings have fallen 97.3% year-on-year from US$ 1.119 billion to just US$ 31 million. At the same time, the 184,000 people employed in the national tourism sector has also taken a massive hit. 

“So foreign exchange earnings of more than US$1 billion are down to only US$ 31 million. I am sure that everyone feels how quiet these (tourism) areas have become,” Luhut said. 

Luhut said the Government’s current strategy is to focus on stimulating domestic tourism. He said the domestic tourism sector’s potential in Indonesia is immense, with a total of 300 million trips taken in 2019. Adding: “For 2020-2021, Indonesia’s tourism sector will be driven by domestic tourism. So we are focusing on the domestic tourism sector that can drive our tourism industry in the current situation.”

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