The Indonesian government is keen to uphold the reputation of the country's ailing tourism industry, with a minister paying special attention to a case involving alleged manipulation of PCR test results for tourists in hotel quarantine.
Over the weekend, Tourism Minister Sandiaga Uno took to Instagram to tell the story about Ukrainian tourists who arrived in Jakarta last week and had been observing mandatory quarantine at an unnamed hotel. The tourists, a parent and their six-year-old child, wrote to Sandiaga saying that their trip to Bali was under threat after their PCR tests, which were taken at the hotel, came out positive."We don't have any symptoms and the additional isolation is VERY expensive so for sure I have a feeling that we were scammed!" the tourist wrote to Sandiaga, adding that the hotel did not allow them to take PCR tests outside as those results could negate their own.
"I have friends who are in quarantine hospital kept like hostage without any symptoms and I have a child with me... it's unbelievable and I need HELP!"
Sandiaga said his ministry sanctioned new PCR tests for the tourists, which came out negative.
"Right now, they are enjoying their holiday in Bali. I hope that in the future tourists would no longer experience such inconvenience," he wrote in the caption.
"I will not hesitate to get tough on those who seek to gain profit at the expense of Indonesia's good name."
Sandiaga's post raised suspicions of more widespread systemic manipulation of PCR test results, designed to keep tourists at designated quarantine hotels for longer.
The Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI) said the case of the Ukrainian tourists was the result of a mere "misunderstanding," while rejecting any suspicions of widespread PCR test manipulation.
International travelers, both foreigners and Indonesians, arriving in the country are currently required to undergo a mandatory seven-day quarantine period upon arrival. Foreign travelers must isolate at their own expense at designated quarantine hotels, often in Jakarta, before having to present a negative exit PCR test result before they can resume their travels in the country.