The Impact of the Pandemic on 2020 Tourism-Related Regional Revenue of Bangka Belitung

Belitung Island finally made it into the UNESCO Global Geopark Network on April 15, 2021, following 5 other national geoparks that had previously become members of UGG. This news is a breath of fresh air for tourism in the Bangka Belitung, which has been hit hard for more than 1 year by the widespread impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. According to UNWTO, tourism drives 10% of the world's economy, where 1 job in the core tourism sector will drive 1.5 jobs that are not directly related to tourism, and overall drive 1 in 10 jobs globally. According to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the Covid-19 pandemic has endangered 120 million jobs with the potential for global Gross Domestic Product loss of 1.5-2.8%.

In Bangka Belitung, although it has always been a development campaign and has always been put forward in various issues and various forums, in fact, whether the tourism economy makes a positive contribution to the regional economy is still debated in Bangka Belitung, especially when faced with the contribution of the mining sector. Tourism in Bangka Belitung is still doubtful to be the substitute economy, at least in the mindset of bureaucracies in several administrative areas in the Bangka Belitung. As mentioned by Yan Megawandi (2020), the research of Ibrahim, et al. (2018) showed that tourism development was not the priority in the medium-term regional development plan documents in regency/municipal governments. At the provincial government, the culture and tourism office previously being responsible for tourism development is merged with the youth and sports office, which potentially impacts various matters, including the lack of focus on the implementation of tasks and the allocation of budget for tourism development, creating a precedent that tourism is not a priority development issue at the provincial government level.

The matters above raise the question, are the economic and tourism impacts in Bangka Belitung not felt or not seen by most people in Bangka Belitung? Is it true that the efforts given to build tourism for more than 1 decade in the Bangka Belitung have not yielded any results? Is it true that Bangka Belitung has to stick with its mining sector because it seems as if the price of tin goes down, the economy in Bangka Belitung becomes sluggish too? These difficult questions must be answered with further in-depth research. However, to generally see the influence of tourism in Bangka Belitung, we can look at tourism-related local revenues to partially picture the condition of the community during the Covid-19 pandemic.

a. Decrease in Tourism-related Revenue in Bangka Belitung in 2020.

To look at the economic contribution of regional tourism, a regional tourism satellite account (TSA) is calculated.  Based on the regional TSA 2011, the contribution of tourism to Gross Regional Domestic Product (GRDP) after rebasing in Kepulauan Bangka Belitung was 3.2% in 2011. The tourism contribution increased by about 27% to 4.06% in 2017. To see the growth of tourism activities in Bangka Belitung in general, we can see the recapitulation of the regencies/municipality revenues in the Province of Kepulauan Bangka Belitung from the hotel, restaurant, and entertainment taxes.

Table 1: Tourism-related local revenue of Kepulauan Bangka Belitung 2019-2020








Hotel Tax
Restaurant Tax
Entertainment tax
Retribution etc.

Source: Local Revenue Reports of 7 regencies/municipality in Kepulauan Bangka Belitung

There was a decrease in the core tourism sector related-local revenues in 2020 by 41% (see table 1). In fact, there has been a slowdown in tourism-related local revenue growth since 2012, despite the significant increase in the amount from year to year. The decline in tourism-related local revenue in 2020 is reasonable, because of various restrictions related to pandemics that have also occurred throughout the world. The accommodation sector is the most suffered business since it relies on visitations, while tourist arrivals to Bangka Belitung also declined, as shown by the statistics for guests of star hotels and air passengers in the Kepulauan Bangka Belitung.

Table 2. Number of Air Passengers in Kepulauan Bangka Belitung







% change



% change

Depati Amir







H.A.S. Hanandjoeddin







Bangka Belitung







 Source: Tourism and Transportation Statistic News (BRS) February 2021 (BPS Prov. Kep. Babel)

Taking into account the monthly statistics on the number of guests of star hotels in the same month in 2019 and 2020, it appears that the severity of the decline in the number of guests at star hotels in Bangka Belitung, which reached around 90%, occurred from April to July 2020. This data is in line with the decline in the number of air passengers arriving and departing Bangka Belitung, where there was a decline in the number of passengers traveling around 92% to 98% in April to June 2020. There was usually a surge in the number of passengers entering and leaving Bangka Belitung during these months because of 3 important events, which are Tomb Sweeping Day (Ceng Beng Festival), Eid, and school holidays.

b. The Impact of the Pandemic on Belitung Island

On paper, the impact of the pandemic on regional income figures clearly shows a very significant decline in the tourism-related income sector. However, how exactly these statistical numbers portray what is happening in real life? Some time ago, the author had the opportunity to meet Agus Pahlevi, Deputy Chairperson of the Association of Indonesian Tourism Actors (ASPPI), who is a tourism lecturer as well as one of the leading Indonesian tourism actors living in Belitung Island. There were several interesting stories that he told when being asked about the state of the tourism vanguards in Belitung Island during the pandemic.

As expected, the pandemic has hit many jobs in the tourism core sectors, especially in the first trimester of 2020. Hotel workers are undoubtedly very affected by the pandemic since the number of tourists coming to Belitung Island has decreased drastically. In 2020 there was a decrease in the number of star hotel guests in Bangka Belitung by 50.70% or 53% specifically on Belitung Island from the situation in 2019. This condition is also reflected in the statistics of Bangka Belitung airplane passengers, where the number of air passengers arriving and departing Bangka Belitung in 2020 was only about 40% of the number in 2019 or declining around 60%.

Table 3. Number of Guests of Star Hotels in Bangka Belitung in 2019 -2020




Change (%)

Bangka Island




Belitung Island




Bangka Belitung




Source: Tourism and Transportation Statistic News (BRS) of Bangka Belitung (BPS Prov. Kep. Babel)

Agus Pahlevi described how difficult the situation on Belitung Island was for local tourism actors to fulfill their basic-daily needs due to the stagnation of tourism activities due to the pandemic. “Until one of our guides no longer had rice, and had to fry stale rice [to eat]…” he described the difficulties faced by local tour guides there. He himself was grateful because he still received assignments to teach and certify the tourism professions throughout Indonesia during the pandemic.

Interestingly, it was not only the core tourism sector workers who are affected by the lack of tourists coming to Belitung Island. Agus Pahlevi found that the mechanics at the vehicle garage also complained about the decline in their income because the lack of tourists also impacted on the demand for repair and maintenance of motor vehicles owned by vehicle rental businesses in Belitung Island, whose biggest consumers were tourists. This condition also impacted micro, small and medium enterprises that provided souvenirs and food and drink services in Belitung Island. This did not include the providers of local raw materials needed by the core tourism sector as well as the activities of SMEs and other informal economies, either directly or indirectly, which usually also served tourism activities. Thus, tourism activities have proven to have a significant multiplier impact on various economic sectors in Bangka Belitung, at least in Belitung Island.

c. Survival Strategies during the Pandemic

With the Covid-19 pandemic, travel service providers must be more creative to survive. A virtual tour (VT) is carried out by utilizing a virtual meeting platform to deal with the lack of visits. As Agus Pahlevi and his colleagues did, they carried out VTs through widely available applications. Virtual tours do not generate as much nominal profit as regular travel, but it is believed that they are capable of being a sufficient destination marketing tool, and it turns out that there are always enthusiasts joining. In collaboration with, for instance, VTs were also carried out by the Hetika Community in Muntok, West Bangka who confidently offered an interpretive heritage virtual tour in Muntok, even though they only recently took an interpretation training during the preparation workshops for the interpretation plan for the Provincial Tourism Strategic Zone of ​​Muntok and its surroundings by the provincial culture and tourism office, just several months before the pandemic hit. The interpretive tour of the Hetika Community was equally interesting with other interpretive tours from various heritage communities that have already been long established in Indonesia on various occasions.

VT is useful for keeping tourists or potential tourists remembering destinations in Bangka Belitung and playing a role in marketing and is quite effective to sell local products. According to Agus Pahlevi, VT participants usually placed orders for local products in the display of the VT that they participated. The Hetika community also did the same thing by selling local West Bangka signature products, such as the Tayu tea.

The pandemic has not only hit the frontline tourism industries but also local MSMEs whose products have been bought as souvenirs by tourists. According to Agus Pahlevi, when the airlines stopped the operations, they used the cargo flights to send local products to VT participants and to people who have taken tour packages to Belitung Island. The results were very good, but then it was not sustainable because, according to him, "... it's also impossible for them [VT participants] not to get bored eating kemplang, or kericu every day for months,". Nevertheless, these efforts have been quite helpful for MSME actors on Belitung Island during the several months of the 2020 pandemic.

From the statistics and cases above, it turns out that this pandemic has depicted the picture of the economic role of tourism in Bangka Belitung which has crucially impacted the livelihoods of many people at large, at least as evidenced in Belitung Island. Since Laskar Pelangi (The Rainbow Troop) made many people curious to take a glance at Belitung and Bangka more than a decade ago, the tourism economy has really developed as a joint movement among the communities, industries, and local governments at that time that wanted to shift the economy of Bangka Belitung. The number of accommodations as well as flights increased, and regional tourism-related revenues grew. When tourism is hit by a pandemic, it is obvious then which economic sectors are multipliedly affected by tourist arrivals. Does this situation still raise doubts for some parties that see only the mining sector can generate the local economy and tourism is only an economy to keep up with the Joneses and does not contribute significantly to the distribution of welfare and economic movement of the community? Will this tourism actually and seriously be supported as the future economy when this pandemic passes? We might need to wait for the pandemic to end to find the answer.

*The author is currently an associate translator in Bappeda of Kepulauan Bangka Belitung with previous experience in tourism marketing and destination divisions in Provincial Culture and Tourism Office for 11 years.
**Rusni Budiati, S.I.P., M.Sc., M.Eng - Penerjemah Ahli Madya Bappeda Provinsi Kepulauan Bangka Belitung
***Artikel ini telah diterbitkan dalam Bahasa Indonesia oleh BabelReview pada 06 Mei 2021 dengan judul "Dampak Pandemi Pada PAD Terkait Pariwisata Babel 2020"
Bappeda Babel
Rusni Budiati