RMOL Jabar - The central government is expected to be able to help ease the burden on pilgrim and umrah travel and tourism businesses that were affected during the Covid-19 pandemic. This is inseparable from the signal that the Government of Saudi Arabia has reopened services to congregations from abroad.
Head of the West Java Tourism and Culture Office (Disparbud), Dedi Taufik, admitted that he had held a meeting with the West Java Umrah and Hajj Travel Organizer Forum for Communication (FKS Patuh Jabar) to discuss recovery strategies.
According to the man who is also the head of the West Java Economic Recovery Task Force Tourism Working Group, the Umrah travel business can be a sector that also recovers during a pandemic.
"We discussed with the Umrah association how the future strategy after the Covid-19 pandemic is mainly related to Umrah travel and at the same time empowering the optimization of Kertajati airport, and even establishing an understanding with Garuda Indonesia and the association," said Dedi, Friday (14/8).
According to him, the existence of this airport is inseparable from infrastructure connectivity and connectivity for tourism. "We try to raise through FKS Obey there are 156 Umrah travels to revive Kertajati airport, especially for Umrah trips," he said.
The discussion that was held earlier this week at the Grand Preanger Hotel was attended by the Director General of Haj and Umrah at the Ministry of Religion, Nizar Ali, who said he continued to communicate with the Saudi Arabian Embassy regarding the opening of the Umrah trip.
"The association has also committed to charter flights. So, every week, if for example October is on, every week an Umrah trip is made from Kertajati to Jeddah, direct Garuda Indonesia, "he said.
The existence of optimism from these business actors must be accompanied by interventions from local and central government such as subsidies, especially the policy of rapid tests or swab tests for pilgrims and foreign travelers. The reason is, if the travel industry players are charged with testing, then this will be burdensome because for nearly five months their business performance was affected by the pandemic.
There are at least two things that must be done if the travel industry is to grow. Namely, assisted with operations and promotions. He himself admitted that he was ready to coordinate with the Ministry of Transportation (Kemenhub) after receiving permission from the Governor of West Java, Ridwan Kamil.
"In terms of this operation, if now the Umrah departure there must be a PCR method swab or quarantine when it returns. There is a cost. So, for example, for the cost for this swab test, we hope that there will be intervention from the central government, there is a subsidy for it or guaranteed by the government, "he explained.
"For promotion, Disparbud can help promote the connection with Umrah packages or packaged in tour packages.
This revival could have an impact on tourism in Indonesia. We also hope that there will be trips from outside West Java to come to West Java, of course, according to the pandemic conditions that have occurred, "he added.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Religion is preparing two options for organizing the Hajj next year, namely the normal option and the Hajj option, which is still in the state of the Covid-19 pandemic. This option also has an impact on the amount of Hajj Travel Costs (Bipih) which can increase as a result of the pilgrimage which is still in a pandemic condition.
Director General of Hajj and Umrah at the Ministry of Religion, Nizar Ali, said that prospective pilgrims may not need to add to the haj pilgrimage costs that have already been paid on condition that the pilgrimage season is in normal conditions again without the Covid-19 pandemic. However, if the hajj is still in a situation where the Covid-19 pandemic is still happening, there must be a readjustment of costs.
Likewise, the new rules for organizing the Hajj are still being formulated by the Ministry of Religion. "We are still keeping a close watch on the conditions of this pandemic, including the possibility of implementing health protocols for the Hajj pilgrimage next year," he added.
Meanwhile, the Chairperson of the West Java Obedient FKS, Wawan R. Misbach is committed to prioritizing the departure of Umrah pilgrims who have been delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
One of the efforts taken is to cooperate with the airline Garuda Indonesia to provide special Umrah flights departing from West Java International Airport (BIJB) Kertajati, Majalengka once a week.
Even so, the realization still has to wait for the policy from the Government of Saudi Arabia regarding the holding of Umrah this year. From the temporary information received by FKS Compliant West Java, the Government of Saudi Arabia will normalize international flights starting September 1, 2020.
"However, there is no specific policy regarding the holding of Umrah. We are still waiting, "he said.