[Research column] (Vol.6) Disasters, Crises, and Indonesia Tourism Resilience
Indonesia’s reliance on the tourism industry has increased at a slow but steady pace and in 2019 contributed around 5.5% to Indonesia's GDP, providing around 13 million jobs. The Indonesian government has targeted tourism to be the a key sector of the economy, invested in public infrastructure including roads, airports, ports, bridges and internet accessibility, while diligently attracting investors worldwide to invest in the country. However, it seems that not all visitors and investors were convinced.
Despite the many disasters and crises in recent times, visitors have been largely to destination Indonesia. From earthquakes to terrorist attack, Indonesia has witnessed a 12% drop in 1998 due to the Asian Financial Crisis, 2% drop in 2002 due to international SARS outbreak, 11% drop in 2003 due to international SARS outbreak and 1st Bali bombing, 6% drop in 2005 due to 2nd Bali bombing, 3% drop in 2006 due to Yogyakarta earthquake. Notwithstanding these many crises points, Indonesia’s tourism growth has showed no sign of slowing down and recorded an average growth of 8.1% in the last 10 years (Badan Pusat Statistik, 2020).
Source : Compiled from Statistics Indonesia (retrieved on 30/10/2020)
Global Tourism Disruptor
COVID-19 has caught everyone off guard, and Indonesia is no exception. As of January 21st, 951,651 cases have been confirmed with 27,203 deaths recorded thus far. Daily additional cases stood at 12,000 after Christmas and the New Year holiday period heading into 2021 (Satuan Tugas Penanganan COVID-19, 2020). As the country has never had a domestic outbreak like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) before, and the prevention measures required to handle such health crises were more or less, non nonexistent. When SARS took hold in the Asia-Pacific region in 2002-2003, Indonesia was spared from the disaster and had recorded only 2 cases and no deaths (Tjandra, 2005). As for the MERS outbreak in 2012, this was not detected in the country. Indonesia, however, has had minor pandemic events previously. Avian Influenza (AI) in 2006 and swine flu in mid-2009 to 2010 was a massive blow for the country's poultry industry and destroyed many industries associated with it. The combination of these events did little to curtail the enthusiasm for international visitors to the country.
In order to accommodate international travelers, Indonesia issued several countermeasures including a countrywide lockdown, risk-zone mapping, restricting of large public gatherings, standardized and subsidized the COVID-19 test fee nationwide, tax incentives and made mandatory testing before traveling between cities (Djalante et al, 2020). Most importantly, Indonesia introduced Cleanliness, Health and Safety (CHS) protocol for multiple sectors. This was introduced by Pemerintah Provinsi Bali (Bali local government) in May 2020, as the island was hoping to have overcome COVID-19 and welcome international tourists on September 11th 2020. However, the pilot project that commenced on July 31st turned out to be disastrous. As shown below, the COVID-19 case numbers continued to fluctuate and increase and the implemented CHS showed little or no efficacy against the continuing spread of coronavirus.
Source : Satuan Tugas Penanganan COVID-19 / Task Force for Handling COVID-19
On the other hand, vaccines are highly anticipated by many who see this as the kick start the industry needs. After having acquired the first batch of 1.2 million dosages of vaccine from Sinovac, a Chinese pharmaceutical company last December, another 17 million dosages will be arrived in February 2021 and will be given to public officers across the country. The Indonesian government has also chosen an unorthodox vaccination strategy. As close to 80% positive cases in Indonesia are from working-age adults (between 18 to 59 years old), by administering the vaccine to them first, they expect their active movements in the society would be the key to stopping the spread of coronavirus. Whether these are smart, well-measured steps to revive the tourism industry, or simply a way to show an immediate response to attract the public's attention, is too early to tell.
Indonesia, COVID-19, Resilience
- Djalante et al. (2020). Review and analysis of current responses to COVID-19 in Indonesia: Period of January to March 2020. Progress in Disaster Science, volume 6. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pdisas.2020.100091
- Guridno, E. & Guridno, A. (2020). COVID-19 Impact: Indonesia Tourism in New Normal Era. International Journal of Management and Humanities, volume 4 (11), 31-34. https://doi.org/10.35940/ijmh.K1049.0741120
- Riadil, I.G. (2020). Tourism Industry Crisis and its Impacts: Investigating the Indonesian Tourism Employees Perspectives’ in the Pandemic of COVID-19. Jurnal Kepariwisataan: Destinasi, Hospitalitas dan Perjalanan, volume 4 (2), 1-15. https://doi.org/10.34013/jk.v4i2.54
- Aditama, Tjandra. (2005). SARS - Infectious Disease of 21st Century. Medical Journal of Indonesia, volume 14, 59. https://doi.org/10.13181/mji.v14i1.173
- Rindrasih, E., Witte, P., Spit, T. & Zoomers, A. (2019). Tourism and Disasters: Impact of Disaster Events on Tourism Development in Indonesia 1998-2016 and Structural Approach Policy Responses. Journal of Service Science and Management, 12, 93-115. https://doi.org/10.4236/jssm.2019.122006
- Statistics Indonesia. (2020). Statistik Dasar Pariwisata. https://www.bps.go.id/subject/16/pariwisata.html#subjek3
- Satuan Tugas Penanganan COVID-19. (2021). Peta Sebaran COVID-19. https://covid19.go.id/peta-sebaran-covid19
Author: RAFFAEL TIRTAATMADJA (PhD student, Wakayama University)