Dzulfiqar Fathur Rahman, Jakarta – The government has delayed plans to establish a travel corridor with Singapore after Indonesia extended its multi-tiered public mobility restrictions (PPKM) amid rising COVID-19 cases.
Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Sandiaga Uno said on Monday that the government would resume preparations for the corridor once domestic COVID-19 caseloads had fallen. The ministry would focus on opening travel corridors to Bali, as well as Batam and Bintan in the Riau Islands province, which are among the top travel destinations for Singaporeans.
"The travel corridor arrangement program has been delayed because we are implementing PPKM level 4, but when the situation gets more conducive, we will resume it quickly," Sandi said during an online press briefing on Monday.
The program also hinges on the state of the pandemic in Singapore, which recently tightened mobility restrictions amid a surge of cases, including by prohibiting dine-in services and limiting gatherings to two people.
Indonesia's own COVID-19 resurgence has prompted the government to extend emergency restrictions by a week, to Aug. 2, while relaxing some provisions, such as allowing traditional markets selling essential goods to remain open until 8 p.m.
The proposed travel corridor with Singapore is part of Sandiaga's plan to boost foreign tourism in Indonesia this year. The minister has begun similar travel corridor talks with Belgium, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Vietnam.
Last year, the Foreign Ministry established corridors for business and diplomatic travel with Singapore, China, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates, allowing such travelers to bypass quarantine requirements provided they had sponsors.
The ongoing emergency restrictions have renewed pressure on tourism and creative economy players, causing hotel occupancy rates to drop to as low as 10 percent and restaurant revenue to decline between 70 and 90 percent in affected areas, according to Sandiaga, who cited data from the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI).
Some 155,607 foreign visitors arrived in Indonesia in May, roughly 12 percent of the 2019 level, according to Statistics Indonesia (BPS) data. Only 2,507 travelers arrived from Singapore that month, less than 2 percent of pre-pandemic levels.