Only a handful of countries can match the outstandingly diverse flora and wildlife of this corner of paradise. Covering an archipelago of over 17,000 islands, Indonesia is home to a dramatic landscape of imposing volcanos, lush rainforests and pear-white beaches. But how is this destination coping with the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic?
COVID-19 RELIEF PROGRAMME FOR TOURISM IN INDONESIA
COUNTRY PROFILE: INDONESIA
None of Indonesia´s holiday locations have captured the minds of international travellers, or achieved the global success as a tourism hotspot, more than the island of Bali.
In this iconic destination, where 80% of the local economy relies on tourism, COVID-19 has meant that almost 3,000 people working in the industry have lost their jobs, and over 73,000 have been forced to take unpaid leave. (Jakarta Post)
Cynthia Hassan, the co-founder of Impact Hub Jakarta - a community of locally-founded impact innovation incubators, accelerators and coworking spaces in Indonesia, explains this further: “After the 2002 and 2005 bombings, the effect was just temporary and the government was quick to take action, so the island rebounded quickly as a leading tourism destination. Now, as the pandemic rages on with no end in sight, the future seems bleak for most Balinese working in the tourism industry. Bali´s status as the premier Indonesian destination for international tourists was taken for granted, and the sudden drop in the number of tourists has become extremely hard to manage for the people on the ground.”
The island has seen its economy contract by 10.98% in the second quarter of 2020, a direct consequence of having welcomed only 1.1 million tourists in the first half of the year, compared to 2.9 million during the same period last year. (New York Times)
“It´s the passion for travelling that makes people think of creative ways to remove these obstacles” says Cynthia, “We are seeing that the Balinese are taking steps to attract domestic tourists. Meanwhile, digital nomads that can work remotely from anywhere in the world choose Bali as a coworking destination, a cool alternative spot where they can enjoy the beauty of Bali while working from “home”.”
In order to stimulate domestic tourism, the Indonesian government has set aside IDR 443 billion (around EUR 25.6 million) as early as February from its IDR 910 billion (around EUR 52.6 million) economic stimulus package, just to create discounts for domestic tourists who’d like to visit one of ten priority destinations, which includes Bali. (Statista)
The road to recovery is long, but the complete halt in operations for the industry also means that unexpected opportunities have arisen, such as the chance for authorities and park operators to assess the impact of tourism on the ecosystems of natural parks and conservation areas. Meanwhile, the government is offering free tours and staycations to 4,440 Balinese residents, in a seven-week tourism dry-run to promote the international holiday hotspot and test its coronavirus health protocols.
“In Balinese culture, there is the belief that the gods are trying to harmonize nature.” Cynthia concludes, “All things happen for a reason, and now that they are less busy, they can pause, take a break and realize the natural beauty of their island and thus become more grateful for their surroundings.”
In a bid to support the recovery and growth of Indonesia´s tourism industry, enpact and the TUI Care Foundation have joined forces to implement the COVID-19 Relief Programme for Tourism, funded by the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).