Jakarta. More Indonesians are turning towards domestic travels amid the Covid-19 pandemic, hinting a possible path of recovery for the country's hospitality sector, according to online travel agency Booking.com.
The sector has become one deserted island due to the coronavirus outbreak. People have canceled their vacation plans following the government's instructions to stay home. Stripped off its visitors, tourist hot spots - along with their workers and local businesses - are suffering a fatal blow to their income.
As the country transitions to the "new normal" phase, Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Wishnutama Kusubandio is ramping up preparation before reopening resorts in several regions. That includes rolling out protocols on cleanliness, health, safety, and environment (CHSE) for tourist sites, hotels, and restaurants alike.
"While essential travel has already started to pick up in a staggered manner, staycations and road trips or holidays closer to home will likely be next in line," Vikas Bhola, South Asia's regional director at Booking.com, told the Jakarta Globe in an emailed interview.
Around 76 percent of Indonesian travelers were adding domestic destinations to their mid-pandemic travel wishlist. That was a jump from the same period last year when only 55 percent of travelers listed local resorts as places they would like to visit.
That trend mirror that of what happening across the globe. According to Bhola, Booking.com's domestic accommodation bookings usually represent 45 percent of the total global business. The local share, however, rose to 70 percent this April when the virus has hit parts of the world.
Indonesian travelers choose Yogyakarta, Jakarta, Ubud, Bandung, and Seminyak as their top five travel destinations during the pandemic, Bhola said.
They may be able to cross Bali off their wishlist soon with the Island of Gods opening its gates for domestic travelers on Jul. 31. However, vacationers must first undergo a rapid test.
"We are also seeing some early signs of recovery in some markets, with travel behavior likely seeing some shifts from going to cities for pre-determined dates to non-city, rural, less explored destinations with more flexible dates," Bhola said.
Also, travelers are increasingly more aware of the natural environment.
A research done by Booking.com earlier this year revealed that 93 percent of Indonesian travelers identified sustainable travel as vital to them. About 72 percent would make sustainable choices on their future trips. Nearly 98 percent planned to stay in eco-accommodation in 2020.
People are also becoming more health-conscious due to pandemic.
Once the outbreak subsides, travel businesses should provide detailed information on health and safety measures. Vacationers will also still rely on technology for comfort during their early-planning stages to in-trip, Bhola said.
Foreigners Dream Indonesia Trip
Several travel destinations that were limited to tourists but will soon be accessible for domestic travelers and eventually, international tourists. And Booking.com data showed foreigners remain enthusiastic about making the trip to Indonesia.
"This global pandemic has put people’s travel plans on hold, but this hasn’t stopped people from dreaming about possibilities," Bhola said.
"Our wish list data reveals that Indonesia is a popular destination with global travelers, with Bali ranking second in the world’s most wish-listed regions," he said.
Other than that, West Nusa Tenggara, Jakarta, Yogyakarta, and West Java also high in the global wishlist that includes 27 destinations in Indonesia, Bhola said.
"Australia, Netherlands, South Korea, Japan, and Singapore are among the nationalities that had ranked Indonesia high on their wish list travel plans," he said.