By Nurul Ramadhan
JAKARTA, May 12 (Xinhua) -- Indonesia has recorded a boom in the number of visitors to tourist destinations after two years of shutdown, thanks to the long Eid holiday and waived restrictions, the country's Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy announced.
Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy Sandiaga Uno told a press briefing on Tuesday that a significant number of people flocked to various tourist sites across the world's largest Muslim population during the Islamic Eid holiday, which ran from April 29 to May 8, with money turnover reaching up to 72 trillion Rupiahs (4.9 billion U.S. dollars).
"Almost all tourist destinations in the country were full of visitors. This could happen because the government allowed people to go mudik for Eid," Uno said.
Eid al-Fitr is the biggest Muslim celebration in Indonesia. The holiday marks the end of the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan. Going homewards, locally called mudik, is an annual tradition for Indonesian Muslims, where people go to their hometowns to reunite with their families.
This year, the Indonesian Transportation Ministry estimated that there were no fewer than 85 million people who went homewards and traveled on holiday as the government has waived social restrictions.
Uno mentioned that some of the country's most famous tourist destinations that recorded a significant number of visitors were Bali resort island, Ancol Dreamland Park in North Jakarta, and Taman Mini Indonesia Indah cultural park in East Jakarta.
In Bali alone, the money turnover reached 250 billion Rupiahs (17.2 million dollars) during the holiday, according to Uno.
Deputy Chairman of the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurants Association (PHRI) for Bali, I Gusti Agung Rai Suryawijaya, said that during the Eid holiday, the tourism sector on the island served more than 33,000 domestic tourists and 4,000 foreign tourists each day. During the pandemic, Bali could only see on average 8,000 tourists each day.
Hotel room occupancy also reached 80 percent, higher than the 30 percent occupancy rate when the government still imposed public activity restrictions.
"Accommodation owners are optimistic that the tourism sector can recover faster in 2022," Suryawijaya said.
Indonesia has seen a positive growth in its tourism sector since March, when the government started to lift a number of restrictions and open international arrivals, which then led to a strong pick-up in Indonesia's economic activities.
Throughout March, the country's Central Agency of Statistics (BPS) recorded 40,790 international arrivals, a drastic 121.02 percent increase compared to the previous month.
The Southeast Asia's largest economic powerhouse also announced Monday that its economy grew 5.01 percent year-on-year during the first quarter of this year, compared with 5.02 percent growth in the fourth quarter of 2021. The growth was mainly supported by the recovery in consumption, investment and exports.
Economy expert Bhima Yudhistira from the Center of Economic and Law Studies, an Indonesian think tank, said that the tourism sector would bring domino effects to other sectors, from transportation, clothing, food and beverages, to telecommunications.
He predicted that in the second quarter of this year, Indonesia's economy would grow around 4.5 percent year on year due to the high mobility of the people during the Eid holiday. ■