Two Sides of the COVID-19 Coin

IT’S NOT TO STRESS US OUT, these are the FACTS that we should face in front of us. These are the real stuff happening out there. These should be a reflection for us to still feel grateful that we’re doing fine while others are barely surviving out there. 

Fact #1: Flights, vessels, and trains operations are put on hold starting from Apr 24.

As the Indonesian government has issued a ban for people to mudik or go home to people’s origin city, the government also takes a strong call on halting all transportation across cities especially going out from Jakarta, the epicenter of the pandemic. This policy will last at least until the end of May when the Lebaran season ends.


Fact #2: More than 1.500 hotels around Indonesia have temporarily shut down.

Some hotels including The Sultan, Aston, Aryaduta in Jakarta have stopped their operations, as part of supporting the government policy as well to save operational costs. Other hotels still operate with a 0-8% occupancy rate.


Fact #3: International tourist arrivals could decline to only 20% to 30% in 2020 compared to the previous year.

This figure is 5-7x worse compared to the 2009 global crisis, 50-70x worse compared to 2003 SARS. Indonesia, itself, might only welcome 5million foreign travelers compared to 16million in 2019.


Fact #4: Around 50million tourism workers around the world are the most fragile.

With around 30million in Asia, these tourism workers are highly likely to become the worst impacted people out of the Coronavirus. In Indonesia itself, around 150k tourism workers are already forced to take unpaid leave and millions of others are facing months of total no income.


WELL, those are one-sided facts about the Coronavirus and tourism world. How about looking at the other side of the story?


Fact #1: The Himalayas has been visible in Punjab for the first time in 30 years 

Coronavirus pandemic has forced a lot of cities to slow down their activities and even implement strict lockdown. Aside from the economic impact, some places we are seeing the best air quality in decades. Most major cities have seen 30-50% pollution reduction during the lockdown period.  


Fact #2: Hotels are donating rooms for first responders. 

Hilton and American Express donated 1 million hotel rooms, while Marriot donated $10million hotel rooms for medical professionals working on the coronavirus pandemic. Ayre Gran Hotel Colon, a hotel located in Madrid transformed theirs into a coronavirus emergency hospital. In Indonesia, Novotel, Mercure, Grand Preanger, and even small guesthouses are joining the movement as well as providing free rooms for the local medical staff.


Fact #3: Impacted tourism workers turned into pandemic heroes.

No flights, no movements, no visits, no tourism activities. Thousands of tourism workers are facing the issue. Some of them are still helping others. Grounded Singapore Airlines and Jetstar Asia aircrews took public service duties educating locals on the importance of social distancing in Singapore. While across the Pacific, United Airlines employees are helping Houston Food Bank, building a production line creating food boxes to help feed families left broke by the COVID-19 pandemic. 


WELL, the good news and facts should not and will not make us fall in love with the virus especially the impacts. It’s just a reminder that there’s always a bright side to everything. It’s important to balance our daily news intake during this era of sad and stressful stories. 


BEYOND THAT, it’s also very important to take this moment as a historic pause button for every one of us to think about what we can do differently after this pandemic is over. How can we make air pollution drop more everlasting instead of a one-off event? How can we remember that it’s the purpose of human lives to give back to society? How can we…? Why are we…? And so on all the questions that we can ask ourselves.


BUT more importantly, it’s the trigger point for us to make a move, to think of how can we make this better, how can we help them to survive. It can start with your small WhatsApp support chart to your travel guides, drivers, or guesthouse owners. It can even be as great as sending out some help through social media sharing about their businesses, down payment for future visits, and even fundraising to support their daily needs. It’s up to you, a small act never fails.


If you’re interested to join #WanderCare movement on Gotong royong bantu pelaku pariwisata lewati pandemi, check it out here.

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