Indonesia tourism industries condemned Indonesia’s new travel ban following the expansion of travel ban to travelers from Italy, South Korea, and Iran following its travel ban on China – regions hardest-hit by Covid-19 – as it seeks to restrain the expanse of the deadly virus.
The new travel constraints, which started March 8, will leave Indonesian tourism players to fall into even more profound isolation after the loss of the Chinese sector – their second-biggest source market.
Gilan, Tehran, and Qom in Iran; Lombardi, Veneto, Emilia Romagna, Marche, and Piedmont in Italy; and Daegu and North Gyeongsang in South Korea are the banned regions.
Retno Marsudi, minister of foreign affairs who declared the policy on March 5, stated that travelers who have been in those regions in the last 14 days would not be allowed to set foot in Indonesia. She emphasized that this was in answer to WHO’s latest report on the spike in reported Covid-19 cases in the three countries.
The minister added that travelers with no travel history to the regions above had to show a valid health certificate issued by health authorities in those three countries to airline officers during the check-in process.
Indonesians returning from South Korea, Iran, and Italy, especially from the regions above, are obligated to undergo extra medical inspections at entry points.
Indonesia tourism industries mourn
He stated that the majority of his inbound guests traditionally originated from Europe, with Italy making up 20 percent in the West European market alone.
“Italy ranks the fourth after the Netherlands, Germany, and France,” he said.
Sadewa stated that he had mailed a letter to his business partners in Italy, urging them to prepare a health certificate.
He continued, however, that the technical details about the ban remain unclear as it does not state whether it applies to citizens who happen to be based in the regions mentioned above, or for those who are official residents there with identity cards as evidence.
A similar question about the travel ban and Indonesia tourism, in general, is posed by Aneka Kartika Tours service manager Adjie Wahjono, who said it would be difficult for the Indonesian authorities to check the area of origin of foreign tourists from those three countries.
While Italy was not his market, Adjie was concerned about the potential restriction that Indonesia could place on travelers from its major markets, such as Germany, France, and Scandinavia, in the event of an increase in the number of Covid-19 cases reported there.
However, he noted the local’s safety is critical in the handling of the epidemic by the authorities. “Local tour operators and Indonesia tourism players need to understand that this restriction is being made to protect us. (If the number of cases of Covid-19) is rising in Indonesia, do we have the capacity to solve that problem?” He said that.
Following the announcement by the Minister, Santika Indonesia Hotel and Resorts in Bali received cancelations from Italy, Iran, and South Korea for room bookings from March to May, the General Manager of Business Development and Marketing Communications, Sudarsana, revealed.
Only South Korea and Italy account for 8 to 10% of Santika’s markets, while Iran accounts for less than that. Nevertheless, Sudarsana said the cancelations made by FITs and groups from those three countries had an impact because they had happened after the massive loss of Chinese tourists.
“Honestly, I’m sad and disappointed, but I can understand (the travel ban) because it’s a (force majeure) matter. We’re also aware of the risks that Iranian clients face when they visit Indonesia. Generally, in Bali (tourism business), financial losses (the loss of the inbound Iranian market) are incurred as the holiday season for the Iranians begin on March 15,” said Susi, business development manager of Ramayana.
It has been a growing trend for Iranians to spend their holidays in Bali during their holiday season, and their visits can rise to around 20%, Susi said.
The ban is particularly painful for Susiati, as she had just returned from Iran from promoting her property there, where she sought to attract Iranians to Bali during her holiday seasons, from March 15 to April 15, as well as in September and October.
She said her Iranian clients ‘ cancellations came from all over the country, and not just from blacklisted regions like Tehran, Qom, and Gilan.
Susiati further expressed that the business loss for Iran was of considerable concern as they usually opted for week-long stays. “And during the low season they visit Indonesia, as opposed to the Australian and European tourists who come in the peak season,” she added.
The airline stated in a statement that it would continue to coordinate the follow-up with the ministry and related authorities, in particular about what preventive action airlines may have to take to mitigate the risk of the spread of Covid-19 to and from the affected regions.
Garuda Indonesia, for example, disinfects its aircraft and supplies hand sanitizers and masks for crew and passengers. It also replaces the HEPA filter in aircraft from and to destinations affected by the outbreak and routinely monitors its in-service cabin crew members.