The Indonesian Halal Tourism Association announced a national campaign to boost a sustainable recovery for the country’s tourism industry, Riyanto Sofyan, the association’s chairman, told Salaam Gateway.
The campaign, Wellness Tourism for Healthy and Prosperous Life, begins this November and brings together a variety of tourism stakeholders to offer training and workshops to promote a healthy lifestyle in the era of a ‘new normal.’ The aim is to ensure socio-economic activities can be maintained in a safe and sustainable manner.
The plan calls for a collaboration between the private and public sector including hotels, spas, food outlets, tour operators and health care workers as well as local government and tourism offices. The central bank is to offer funding and technical assistance.
Training will focus on the wellness tourism concept including hygiene, health, safety, and environmental sustainability. The industry-wide collaboration aims to provide innovative tourism packages such as bundling or pay later programs, digital strategies and developing an interconnected covid-19 case tracing system.
Indonesia is gradually opening its popular destinations as the COVID-19 pandemic comes under more control, marked by a continued decline in daily infection cases since the second peak in the country last July. The current decline has been going on for more than 14 consecutive weeks. Bali and Batam opened for international tourists on October 14, and will be followed by other Indonesian destinations.
“Now is the terrific time to launch this initiative to maintain this promising turning point momentum,” Sofyan explained. “During this gradual opening period, people should keep implementing health protocols in every activity, including tourism activity. This campaign was inaugurated by Vice President Maaruf Amin and Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy,” he added.
The campaign will run until 2024 in several provinces or cities like West Java, Jakarta, Jogjakarta, West Nusa Tenggara, West Sumatera, Riau and Riau Islands, East Java and South Sulawesi.
Covid-19 has had a severe impact on Indonesia’s tourism industry. Its Central Statistics Agency noted a sharp decline on foreign tourist arrivals in 2020, which only reached 4.02 million visits, down more than 75 percent from 2019.
Indonesia’s halal tourism sector was also hit hard by the pandemic. Sofyan, who himself owns a sharia-compliant accommodation, Sofyan Hotel, said his business was not breaking even. He closed the hotel from March to May 2020 when there was not a single room reservation.
Sofyan re-opened in June 2020 and the occupancy rate surpassed 50 percent during the months of November and December last year. But it dropped again due to an increase in Covid-19 cases, and only began improving again last June. “This month our occupancy rate is 52 percent, but our overall revenue margin is three to four times compared to pre-pandemic level due to efficiency on overhead cost, better non-room sales, such as meeting and function room offerings, café and restaurant revenues and better cash flow,” he added.
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