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Ocean Tourism: Key to Covid Recovery
01 April 2021 | Written by Chris Alexander

As Indonesia prepares to reopen its borders, the new normal is expected to feature more activities in nature, with holidaymakers increasingly looking to reconnect with the great outdoors. In response, the government is investing in marine parks and infrastructure projects designed to leverage the pulling power of natural attractions. The world’s largest archipelago nation, Indonesia’s greatest asset in its tourism revival could be the ocean. 

Ministers and industry leaders agree that outdoor attractions will be key to Indonesia’s recovery, and have put a specific focus on diving and cruises in the months ahead. Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) Chairman Rosan P. Roeslani recently stated that the construction of infrastructure related to tourism must continue amid the Covid-19 pandemic: “We know that Covid-19 will end,” he said. “Indonesia is a maritime country that needs an international-standard marina,” he added. 

Sandiago Uno, who is Indonesia’s Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy, is turning this ambition into reality. The Bali Maritime Tourism Hub (BMTH) is a construction project designed to expand Indonesia’s capacity for cruise ships, yachts and diving tours. Located in Benoa on the island of Bali, the project will feature a fish market, leisure facilities, theme park and retail attractions, along with a range of births for sailing vessels. Scheduled for completion in 2023, it will be the largest cruise port in all of Indonesia, able to accommodate ships measuring up to 350 metres and with a capacity of 6,000 passengers. The hub is expected to increase annual foreign tourist arrivals by 133,777. 

Elsewhere in Indonesia, the Sabang Free Trade Zone and Port Management Body (BPKS) has set a target of at least 12 international cruise ship arrivals this year. “The cruise ships will be allowed to dock at Sabang on the basis of the Sabang mayor’s letter,” explained BPKS Head Iskandar Zulkarnain. The Sabang city administration is currently waiting on a permit for cruise ships to dock in the coastal city. “[When] the permit is issued, we open Sabang (for the cruise ships),” explains Kamaruddin, a representative from Sabang city government’s economic and development affairs.  

As a precautionary measure, local authorities will require cruise passengers to present Covid-19 health certificates. With no new cases since October 2020, officials have asserted that Sabang is safe for international travellers and currently permit unconditional entry to all travellers visiting the coastal city by land. Located on Weh Island, Sabang is the westernmost point in the Indonesian archipelago; a popular destination for cruise ships, yachts and diving excursions that’s famed for its sandy beaches and underwater beauty.  

Indonesia is the world’s largest archipelagic nation, with more than 80,000 kilometres of coastline and a marine area spanning over 3 million square kilometres. Located in the heart of the Coral Triangle, its 17,000 islands are home to 76% of the world’s coral species, six of the world’s seven species of sea turtles and more than 2,000 species of reef fish. Ocean-loving travellers in Indonesia are spoiled for choice, with stellar diving and cruise locations such as Raja Ampat, Komodo National Park, Ambon, Bunaken and Bali.  

For a closer look at some of the archipelago’s top underwater attractions, check out our Top 10 Diving Destinations in Indonesia. Panorama Destination also provides cruises and private charter vessels for excursions throughout Indonesia. For more information, click here