TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - The government will update the list of foreign nationals allowed to enter Indonesia in response to the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, stated Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy, Sandiaga Uno.
The new variant has been reported to have spread to Hong Kong and Belgium, he noted. The Indonesian government will prioritize the health and safety of its citizens to avoid a third wave of COVID-19 by regulating travelers who can enter the country, he said.
"The government will evaluate the border opening for foreign tourists on a regular basis. which will be coordinated with the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Investment, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Ministry of Health," Uno said during a weekly press briefing on Monday.
Earlier, the government, through the Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, had changed the duration of quarantine for foreign citizens (WNA) and Indonesian citizens (WNI) traveling to Indonesia from abroad from three days to seven days.
The effort was taken as an anticipatory measure against the spread of the Omicron variant detected in South Africa which has a fast transmission rate, he explained.
Uno said he hopes that the new variant will not spread to Indonesia in the midst of the tourism sector revival.
Based on official data, Indonesia welcomed 126.5 thousand foreign tourists in September 2021, a decline of 15.08 percent compared to September 2020, he noted.
"However, when compared to August 2021, the number of foreign tourist visits in September 2021 has increased by 1.41 percent," the minister pointed out.
Between January and September 2021, the number of foreign tourists visiting Indonesia reached 1.19 million, he added.
"From 126.5 thousand foreign tourist visits in September 2021, most of them came from Timor Leste with 72.9 thousand visits (57.7 percent) and Malaysia with 39.8 thousand visits (31.5 percent). In general, they are border crossers,” Uno added.