DestinationsThe Indonesian government recently ratified Covid-19 health protocols to assist the tourism industry to restart safely

Indonesia puts trust at centre of tourism recovery campaign

Through safety protocols launched, Indonesia is keen to gain traveller trust in the country. Credit: Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy
Through safety protocols launched, Indonesia is keen to gain traveller trust in the country. Credit: Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy

The safe and steady recovery of the tourism sector is now the topmost priority for Indonesia's Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry, with government officials, including Tourism Minister Wishnutama Kusubandio, stating that regaining traveller trust is key to the industry’s recovery.

In light of this, the Indonesian government recently ratified Covid-19 health protocols for the tourism sector. Developed by the Health Ministry, Tourism Ministry and industry stakeholders, the Cleanliness, Health and Safety (CHS) protocol for accommodation, F&B, tourist attractions, transport, meetings, events, and all tourism-related facilities is detailed in a 66-page handbook and videos, officially released on 19 June.

From arrival to departure, the protocol applies to all aspects of travel for industry employees, guests, and suppliers, said Bali Hotels Association’s (BHA) government relations director, Fransiska Handoko, during the recent Bali Tourism - The Way Back webinar organised by Delivering Asia Communications and C9 Hotelworks.

Like most of the world’s travel destinations, Indonesia’s Tourism Ministry will initially focus on the domestic market, through its #DiIndonesiaAja (#JustinIndonesia) campaign. To build confidence among international travellers, the Ministry is encouraging industry stakeholders to document their CHS protocol activities and share them on social media with the hashtag #DreamTodayTravelTomorrow.

Regarding CHS protocol-related content, the Tourism Ministry’s director of marketing, Nia Niscaya, during a recent Association of Indonesian Tours and Travel Agencies online discussion, said: “We have to be able to be present in the market by displaying content that inspires tourists." The Tourism Ministry’s website currently features photos of traditional Balinese dancers in masks and face shields offering hand sanitiser.

However, Norbert Vas, vice president of Archipelago International, a major hotel operator in Indonesia, cautioned the industry against engaging in "clean wars" that might potentially scare away visitors. Instead, he called for a "cautious and fair" approach.

“A lot of hotels are coming up with crazy ads and initiatives. I’ve seen an ad of a front desk employee with a mask and face shield and gloves," he remarked during Bali Tourism - The Way Back event. "It doesn’t look like you’re checking into a hotel; it looks like you’re checking into a nuclear power station."

While regional neighbours such as Vietnam and Thailand have successfully contained the outbreak, epidemiologists have warned that Indonesia has not yet reached its pandemic peak. Bali, however, has been widely praised for its comparatively low caseload and mortality rate, which as of 1 July stands at 1,527 cases and 14 deaths.

The Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry and Bali’s provincial government recently announced a tentative three-stage plan to reopen the island for tourism, starting with local tourism from July, domestic tourism from August, and international arrivals from September. This is highly dependent on the island’s Covid-19 caseload however, particularly the rate of local transmissions, Bali Governor Wayan Koster told reporters in mid-June.

But industry members believe the enduring appeal of Bali will likely work in its favour to lure visitors back. STR area director - Asia Pacific, Jesper Palmqvist, said during the Bali Tourism - The Way Back event: “People love Bali – Indonesians, Asians, Aussies, everyone. People will return. Bali will be on top of mind quite early, and that will prove a very important part [in the industry’s recovery].”

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