Indonesia closed to foreign tourists in 2020; Covid-19 cases hitting 140,000 as death toll hits 6,150

Indonesian folk dancers are wearing masks and wearing traditional outfits during a dance rehearsal to commemorate Indonesia’s Independence Day. Indonesia's National Day falls on Monday (Aug 17). - AFP

JAKARTA, Aug 16 (dpa): Indonesia will not be allowing in foreign tourists for the rest of the year, with authorities instead focussing on reviving the hard-hit tourism sector with domestic demand, a senior minister had announced.

"It looks like we will not be welcoming foreign tourists until the end of the year. We will just be consolidating first," Luhut Pandjaitan, the chief minister for maritime affairs and investment, told Indonesia's business community in a virtual forum on Thursday.

The statement came as Covid-19 infections continued to surge, after social restrictions were eased and businesses reopened.

Indonesia's Health Ministry announced 2,081 new confirmed Covid-19 cases on Sunday, bringing the total number of infections nationwide to 139,549.

According to data released by the ministry on Sunday, 79 more people have died of the disease, bringing the death toll to 6,150.

The total number of recovered patients has also increased to 93,103.

The capital city recorded 518 new confirmed cases, bringing the total tally to 29,400. Meanwhile, East Java reported 488 new cases, West Java 168, South Sulawesi 156, South Kalimantan 100 and East Kalimantan 86.

The virus has spread to all of the country's 34 provinces.

Meanwhile, Pandjaitan's remarks also shelved Bali's regional government's plan to open the resort island for international tourists on September 11, as the final part of a three-phase plan.

Bali reopened its tourist destinations in July for island locals and domestic tourists.

Pandjaitan said the government would focus on encouraging domestic tourists to revive the industry, increasing domestic travel to make up 70 per cent of tourist activities in the future.

The Indonesian government in March banned foreigners from entering the country as part of its virus control measures, except for those entering for essential and official purposes.

Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said in a press briefing on Thursday that Indonesia and South Korea have agreed to establish an essential business travel corridor effective starting August 17, allowing travel for essential business as well as official and diplomatic purposes, but not tourism.

This is the second bilateral business travel corridor arrangement that Indonesia forged, following the first one with the United Arab Emirates that took effect on July 29. - dpa

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