Mardika Parama, Jakarta – Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Wishnutama Kusubandio vowed on Tuesday to disburse a Rp 3.3 trillion (US$224 million) grant for tourism-related businesses and local administrations, as it aimed to help cushion the impacts of the pandemic on the sector and improve health protocol implementation at tourist destinations.
The tourism grant is to be sourced from the government's Rp 695.2 trillion COVID-19 national economic recovery fund, aimed to finance the healthcare system and bolster the economy.
"This grant is expected to help the hotel and restaurant industry that is facing financial difficulties and the local administrations that are losing out on revenue due to the pandemic," Minister Wishnutama said in a statement, adding that the grant was expected to help the businesses and administrations until December.
The pandemic has depressed the tourist industry amid the imposition of large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) in various regions to curb virus transmission. It has wiped out around Rp 85 trillion of Indonesia's tourism revenue as of July, with estimated Rp 70 trillion losses posted by the hotel and restaurant industry, according to data from the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI).
Indonesia's foreign visits also dipped 68.17 percent to 3.41 million visits as of August this year, compared to 10.71 million visitors in the same period last year, according to Statistics Indonesia (BPS) data.
The grant would be provided for regions where revenue from hotel and restaurant tax (PHPR) accounted for at least 15 percent of its locally generated income (PAD) in the 2019 financial year.
It will also be available for the government's 10 priority tourist destinations, five super-priority tourist destinations, such as Mandalika, West Nusa Tenggara and Borobudur, Central Java, as well as branding destinations and regions included on the ministry's calendar of events.
Of the awarded grants, 70 percent will be directly disbursed to businesses while the remaining 30 percent will be given to local administrations to cushion COVID-19 induced economic shocks on the tourism and creative economy sector.
"The disbursement of the funds will [begin with] a proposal from the regional head to the Finance Ministry, in accordance with the technical recommendations issued by the Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry," Wishnutama said.
Alongside the grant, the Tourism Ministry plans to set aside Rp 119 billion to provide free cleanliness, health, safety and environmental sustainability (CHSE) certification for businesses across Indonesia. The certificate is intended to help regain tourists' trust in travel.
"Travel businesses, hotel management and restaurant owners could immediately improve their preparations in cleanliness, health and safety protocol implementation in accordance with the government's COVID-19 health protocols [through the program]," he said.