JAKARTA — Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which has especially devastated the tourist sector, tour guides have reportedly turned to retail to make ends meet.

According to the head of the Indonesian Tour Leaders Association’s (ITLA) public relations, media and publication department, Santi Lianto, almost all of the association’s members have become retailers and are creating their own business accounts, which are promoted by the association through social media and WhatsApp groups.

“[Through our program named There’s Always Hope], our members have the opportunity to sell their products, such as food or other goods, in order to survive in this situation,” Santi told kompas.com on Sunday.

Santi is hopeful that the government will be able to manage the pandemic more seriously.

“We are [especially] hoping for a more relaxed [policy] for our members who have to pay installments and now no longer have incomes,” said Santi, adding that the ITLA had helped out in the matter by issuing statement letters for those who have such issues.

The ITLA has around 1,400 members in total and around 80 percent rely on leading tour groups as their main income source.

Indonesia’s most popular tourist island Bali is also suffering from the virus as it experienced an almost 100 percent drop in foreign tourist arrivals in April.


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