Indonesia gets more confident


2009 will probably be remembered as not such a bad year for the tourism
industry in Indonesia, despite the bombings in Jakarta and the terrible
earthquake in Sumatra. Indonesia seems to suddenly have gained in
confidence and look at its tourism future with optimism.
Decentralization within the country with the emergence of a new
generation of governors and head of tourism has helped to shake up
Indonesia and give him a new sense of confidence.
By looking at 2009, tourism has so far not doing so bad. “We are among
the few countries in Southeast Asia to still record this year a growth
in foreign arrivals. Other countries such as Singapore, Vietnam or
Thailand experience even double-digit drops”, says Sapta Nirwandar,
Director General for Marketing at Indonesia Ministry of Culture and
Tourism. From January to August, Indonesia received 4.13 million
foreign travellers, up by 1.38%. Some of the best performing countries
include Australia (+27.8%), France (+25.4%), China (+20.3%), the Middle
East (+21.5%) and Malaysia (+9.6%). “We are for example very pleased
with Europe which showed a plus of 5.4% during the same period of
time,” adds Nirwandar. This result is an achievement as Indonesia total
arrivals grew already by 16.88% in 2008, generating close to US$ 7.5
billion in revenues.
The government continues to simplify travel to Indonesia: more
international flights are allowed and visa-on-arrivals facilities were
recently introduced at Bandah Aceh airport. “We look again at the visa
issue and study if we could not offer a larger choice of different
visas such as a 2- or 3 months-visa for long time travelers or a two
week-visa instead of only one week,” explains Nirwandar. The Ministry
will keep up for the time being with its “Visit Indonesia” concept
until a new slogan is found, most probably during the next year. In
total, Indonesia expects to welcome 6.5 million tourists by year end
and finish around 6.7 to 7 million foreign tourists in 2010. Forecasts
until 2014 were recently presented at a round-table in Jakarta. The
Department of Tourism forecasts between 11.3 and 12 million of
international travelers in four years time. Indonesia wants to target
over the next years new markets such as India, the Middle East as well
as neighboring markets such as China, Russia, the Philippines or
Vietnam; “ All those markets have a lot of potential for development,”
estimates Nirwandar. Although Indonesia will continue to highlight
eco-tourism, marine tourism and culture, more and more thematic tourism
products emerge such as well-being, religious tourism or even culinary.
At TIME-Pasar Wisata, Indonesia’s largest travel trade show for the
industry, Meity Robot, Chairperson of the event, takes also a positive
view on the market’s evolution. “We recorded this year 250 delegates
including 127 buyers from 25 countries compared to 104 buyers from 21
countries in 2008 in Makassar. Transactions represented a total of US$
17.5 million, up by 15%. It proves that TIME is a strong feature for
the trade who wants to sell Indonesia,” explains Meyti Robot.
TIME Pasar Wisata is also a unique opportunity to highlight a specific
region. Lombok hosted the event for the first time and it hopes that it
will be a major kick-off to the Visit Year Lombok-Sumbawa planned for
2012. “It was the first major international event in tourism hosted in
Lombok. Of course, we made some mistakes but we will learn from it as
we will host again the show in 2010. But we really believe that TIME
will help us to gain international recognition as we received many
positive feedback about the Island,” adds Awanandhi Aswinabawa,
chairman of TIME Organizing Committee.