Marchio Irfan Gorbiano and Rizki Fachriansyah, Jakarta – Amid concerns over a decline in foreign tourist arrivals as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Wishnutama says that the government has prepared measures to ensure that Indonesia's tourism sector remains healthy and lucrative despite the depressed mood.
Wishnutama said the ministry would focus on enticing domestic tourists to visit popular destinations across the country instead, so that local tourism would remain afloat amid the virus fears.
"We will bolster local tourism. We'll encourage domestic tourists to go on vacation in the country," he said after attending a meeting with President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo on Tuesday.
He went on to say that he is set to lobby airlines that had canceled their flights to China to reroute their flights to Indonesia instead and offer the public flight packages to various tourist destinations across the country.
"Since many flights to China were [canceled], we've offered [the airlines] a partnership to substitute the international departures with domestic ones," Wishnutama said, adding that he planned to discuss the matter with Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi and a number of airlines.
The government eyed around 30 airlines for the partnership, he said. "There are around 30 airlines that could probably re-route to domestic destinations and, therefore, support local tourism," Wishnutama added.
Indonesia has imposed a travel ban to and from mainland China starting on Wednesday, preventing people who have been in China in the previous two weeks from visiting or transiting in the Southeast Asian country amid fears about a spread of the coronavirus that originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
The government has also suspended visa-free and visa-on-arrival provisions for Chinese citizens.
As of Wednesday, the coronavirus had killed 491 people in mainland China, one in Hong Kong and one in the Philippines and spread to more than 20 countries, Johns Hopkins CSSE reported.