The JHL Solitaire hotel in Gading Serpong, Tangerang, turns on heart-shaped lights to pay tribute to medical workers on Sunday. (Antara Photo/Fauzan)

Hotels Forced to Close Down as Occupancy Rates Plunge

BY :DINA FITRI ANISA, IWAN M PUTUHENA

APRIL 07, 2020

Jakarta. The Indonesian tourism industry has been one of the most affected economic sectors since the start of the coronavirus pandemic at the beginning of January.

Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Wishnutama Kusubandio said at least 1,500 hotels across Indonesia have felt the impact of the pandemic. 

"Thousands of hotels have experienced a significant fall in occupancy rates. In March, hotel occupancy rates plunged between 0 to 8 percent. Cancellations were up to 70 percent," Wishnutama said in a teleconference on Monday.

Aside from empty hotels, the minister said the tourism industry also suffered from many events getting canceled, including several significant exhibitions. 

"Around 84 percent of events were canceled or postponed," Wishnutama said.

Another major problem in the industry now is the increasing number of laid-off staff.

"As expected, daily wage workers have been laid off, contract workers have had their contracts terminated and many others have been put on unpaid forced leave," he said.

The Indonesian Hotels and Restaurants Association (PHRI) chairman Hariyadi Sukamdani confirmed on Tuesday that 1,266 hotels have been closed since the pandemic began.

"According to the latest report, 1,266 hotels have been closed but the actual number is estimated to be higher since many hotels still haven't reported their conditions," Hariyadi said.

He estimated that more than 150,000 employees in the industry have been affected by in some way by the pandemic.

Hariyadi said he was also concerned that hotels would not be able to pay salaries and holiday bonuses (THR) for the upcoming Idul Fitri.

He said PHRI has held talks with the Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry to find a way out. 

Wishnutama said aside from the hotels, top tourist destinations Lake Toba, Borobudur, Labuan Bajo, Mandalika and Likupang have had to be closed as well.

He revealed that according to a recent worldwide study, the global tourism industry might only start to recover from the pandemic in 2022 or 2023.

The World Tourism Organization even said global tourism might take five to seven years to get back to normal.

"The [tourism industry] might start to get back to normal in 2022. Recovery in the tourism sector will take a relatively long time compared to other industries because it's very dependent on people's psychological condition and environmental safety," Wishnutama said. 

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