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Visit Indonesia Year 2008: a success?

Yusof Sulaiman, eTN Asia/Pacific  Sep 22, 2008

The Indonesian government’s Visit Indonesia Year (VIY) 2008 campaign has not met its expected target. According to critics of the Indonesian government, so far it’s been a failure.

Official figures from the Central Bureau of Statistics show, the number of foreign tourists for the first quarter of this year shows a paltry 3.4 million. If the numbers continue the same pattern, critics say, there will only be 600,000 additional tourists, bringing the total to 6.4 million, well below the government's target of 7 million.

Jero Wacik, Indonesia's minister of culture and tourism told the country's House of Representatives, his ministry will be launching the Film Festival and Vegetarian Food Festival in Batam in efforts to reach the target. "We are trying to make some breakthroughs in our promotion,” he said. “The result will take time."

Critics also point out, Wacik’s ongoing promotional VIY 2008 visit to Japan will keep him busy if he plans to sell VIY 2008 to the Japanese travel industry. Few in Japan know about the VIY 2008 promotion. "The Keizai Kai is the biggest travel fair in Asia, organized by the Japan Association of Travel Agents (JATA)."

"I checked it, still very few know about it", said Stephen Pearlman, public relations manager for Japan Airlines. "Several big Japanese travel agents, including JTB, HIS didn't know about VIY 2008."

Tadahiko Narita, from the Indonesia tourism promotion office in Japan points out, lack of printed promotional materials, and lack of funds has hindered the promotion in Japan. "Added to it, due to misprint of brochures in the Japanese language, we don't have brochures on the VIY 2008 promotion."

Wacik admitted, the Bali bombing incidents and natural disasters which hit Indonesia in the last few years have put a damper on the number of foreign tourists visiting Indonesia. He, however, said, "We have to remain optimistic that we will reach our target.”

Visit Indonesia Year 2008 program director general of marketing Sapta Nirwanda said: " We don't advertise on TV, but adopt 'guerrilla marketing' for our promotion. Indonesia use a different method of promotion."

Visit Indonesia Year 2008:  a success?

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