Dzulfiqar Fathur Rahman, Jakarta – The number of foreign tourists arriving on Indonesia's shores plummeted 59.96 percent to 3.09 million in the first half of the year as the COVID-19 pandemic brought tourism to its knees, Statistics Indonesia (BPS) reported Monday.
In June, foreign visitor numbers were down 88.82 percent year-on-year (yoy) to around 160,300. The month-to-month figures also fell 2.06 percent, marking a return to a downward trend after a brief uptick in May that suggested a sign of recovery.
"The recovery may take quite a long time," Suhariyanto, the head of BPS, said in a virtual presser on Monday.
Despite having yet to bring the coronavirus under control, Indonesia is seeking to speed up the recovery of tourism by reopening Bali, a world-renowned tourist destination. Domestic travelers could visit Bali from July 31 and international visitors will be permitted starting from Sept. 11.
With more than 82,000 visitors, Timor Leste accounted for around half of all foreign arrivals in June, followed by Malaysia with around 62,760 visitors and China with more than 2,000 visitors.
"We are still seeing a negative year-on-year change in all foreign tourist [arrivals]," said Suhariyanto.
"There was an uptick, but things are still far from normal, so we still need to work hard to attract foreign tourists to Indonesia. The key is the end of the pandemic and compliance with health protocols."
With most domestic and international travel having ceased, the occupancy rate of star hotels across Indonesia remained low at 19.70 percent in June, a drop of 32.57 percentage points from June of 2019.
"The occupancy rate is not only about foreign tourists, but also about domestic tourists and business trips," said the BPS head.
The pandemic has cost the hotel and restaurant industry almost Rp 70 trillion (US$4.76 billion) and the aviation and tour industry Rp 15 trillion, according to data compiled last month by the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI).
Most entry points to Indonesia continued to record declines in foreign arrivals in June, with a few exceptions like Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Banten, which saw a 130.13 percent monthly increase, and Juanda International Airport in East Java, which saw a 708.33 percent monthly increase, following the relaxation of large-scale social restrictions.