Carlos Roy Fajarta, Jakarta – Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Sandiaga Uno moved his office and staff to Bali on Thursday to get first-hand knowledge of the real problem facing the tourism industry, the hardest hit by the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
The resort island's economy depends largely on tourism, which makes up more than 80 percent of its revenues. Global travel restrictions and coronavirus lockdown have hit Bali's economy so hard it suffered the biggest contraction among other provinces in the last quarter.
Sandiaga, who was assigned to the office last month, departed to the island early in the morning accompanied by close aides. On his way to the new office from the airport, he witnessed quiet souvenir shops and resort beaches deserted by tourists.
"The coronavirus pandemic is really devastating tourism industry in Bali, whose 80 percent of population make a living in the sector. We must do something about it," Sandiaga said.
He said the government plans to provide incentive for small and medium enterprises in Bali and prioritize Covid-19 vaccination drive for tourism-related workers.
Monthly international arrivals in Bali have been falling to fewer than 100 in recent months while hotel occupancy rate stood at less than 20 percent overall. The island now depends on domestic tourists to survive.
Bali is also among the ten worst-affected provinces in the Indonesian outbreak, with a total of 25,246 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 659 deaths as of Thursday, according to Health Ministry data.