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Since the COVID-19 crisis closed national borders, the message from local travel and tourism providers and the government has been clear: plan a holiday at home. Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Wishnutama Kusubandio has urged Indonesians to support local businesses and rethink their domestic travel plans.

As authorities relax social distancing restrictions and Indonesia transitions to what the government calls a “new normal”, travel providers will need to win back the hearts and minds of travelers. As the industry contemplates and explores new ways to recover, we believe it will take a community response to get the world traveling again. Technology and innovation will be a powerful enabler of change.

As a travel technology provider, we’re committed to working together with our customers, partners and the wider industry to rethink travel ultimately ensuring it continues to be a key driver of global progress, positivity and prosperity.

Modern technology is giving the travel industry the opportunity to evolve at a pace that was never possible just a few decades ago. Flexible, scalable and cloud-enabled tools coupled with agile working practices allow companies to develop new innovations quickly. Data-led artificial intelligence and machine learning can speed up operational and commercial readiness at an unprecedented pace.

Here are some ways Indonesia’s travel industry can retool, reinvent and rebound higher than before.

Despite the unknowns that lie ahead, COVID-19 has not tempered our appetite for travel. Rather, it has changed our preferences. In “Amadeus’ Destination X: Where to Next” research, 72 percent of Asia Pacific travelers prefer domestic travel for their next holiday getaway, but more than one third of Asia Pacific travelers want upfront knowledge of COVID-19 prevention measures for air travel and hotels options.

Airports, airlines and travel providers in Indonesia should proactively implement strict safety and hygiene standards to ensure travelers can move swiftly and safely with minimal contact with other passengers. Airlines such as Garuda Indonesia and AirAsia currently require travelers to present negative COVID-19 test results, along with other documents such as valid health certificates, prior to departure.

There is also increasing demand for airports to provide rapid, automated testing services for travelers, particularly those located in tourist hot spots such as SoekarnoHatta Airport in Tangerang, Banten. As travelers reevaluate travel on cleanliness and hygiene factors, touchless check-in kiosks and facial recognition technology will become the norm, as well as offairport check-in to minimize overcrowding at airports. The ability to change travel plans last minute without incurring hefty change fees is also a high priority.

The gold standard for booking and purchasing travel will be the ability for travelers to defer to another date, with no expiry data, no penalty and no additional cost, within reason. Travel companies will need to plan for shorter booking windows with extra flexibility and relaxed cancellation fees to shore up consumer confidence.

Prior to COVID-19, over-tourism was a growing issue for popular tourist destinations in Indonesia, with the government forced to limit the number of visitors or even close sites to prevent over-crowding, pollution and other environmental impacts. The “Sustainable Travel Report” by Booking. com also reveals that more travelers are factoring in sustainability when choosing where, how and with whom to travel.

As restrictions begin to ease, now is a good time for the travel and tourism industry to not simply return to business as usual, but to shape a more sustainable future of travel in Indonesia. Travel companies and tour operators need to support consumers to make considered purchasing decisions and travel in more purposeful ways, such as visiting national parks during off-season or volunteering in local communities.

In a recent traveler survey by Amadeus, travelers most commonly defined sustainable and responsible travel as “putting the locals first”. Travel companies can provide resources to help travelers support local initiatives such as trekking with local guides, enrolling in a local language course or attending a local festival, and choose certified businesses with sustainable practices such as ecolodges and wildlife tours.

Guiding travelers to greener flights by giving them the option to compare emissions is another way to empower them to decrease their travel and tourism footprint. The United Nations has urged the travel sector to halve its combined carbon emissions by 2035 and we can expect more airlines to look at carbon offset projects that focus on renewable energy or CO2 capture as people demand cleaner air travel.

In order to rethink the future of travel, we must ask ourselves how we can rebuild in a way that was better than before. The travel industry has always been a driver of economic growth in Indonesia. Now is the time to form new partnerships and collaborations in the industry so that we can maximize the contribution of travel to the economic, social, and cultural well-being of the country — and the world.

To revitalize domestic demand, the Indonesian government recently ratified COVID-19 health protocols for the tourism sector. Developed by the health and tourism ministries and industry stakeholders, the Cleanliness, Health and Safety (CHS) protocol for accommodation, tourist attractions, transportation and events focus on health and hygiene to ensure a safe travel experience in Indonesia during COVID-19.

Recently, the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI) and Indonesia National Air Carriers Association (INACA) announced a partnership to create attractive travel packages to boost domestic consumption. To provide affordable travel, both associations plan to create flight and hotel bundle packages for solo and group travelers, which would be accessible through the websites of all participating airlines and hotels.

There is no doubt that many people and businesses in Indonesia and beyond have suffered incredible losses over the last few months and there are tough times ahead. However, the coronavirus crisis offers us an unexpected opportunity to think imaginatively about how, together, we can recover better. By focusing on safety, sustainability and partnerships, we can start local first, to inspire the world to travel again.

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Vice president, business travel in Asia Pacific at Amadeus. The views expressed are his own.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of The Jakarta Post.

Source : https://www.thejakartapost.com/academia/2020/10/07/rethinking-travel-in-indonesia-how-can-the-travel-industry-design-the-next-normal.html

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