JAKARTA, Indonesia (eTN) – From October 12 to 14, Bandar Lampung will play host to Indonesia’s only incoming B2B travel fair, TIME (Tourism Indonesia Mart & Expo)/Pasar Wisata. Hosted at Novotel Lampung, the tourism event takes place for the first time on Sumatra Island and hopes to attract over 120 buyers from all around the world who will meet and face some 100 travel companies from the Indonesian Archipelago. The presence of the show in Bandar Lampung, at Sumatra’s most Southern tip, is likely to attract a lot of exhibitors from Indonesia’s second most-populated island.
In its 17th year of existence, TIME is organized by the Indonesian Tourism Promotion Board (ITPB) and supported by entire tourism components in Indonesia.
Despite its strategic position, Sumatra has so far not fully capitalized on its assets. Looking at the map, the island with over 45 million inhabitants and important metropolises such as Medan (2.3 million inhabitants), Palembang (1.2 million), or Padang (800, 00) has done little to improve its links to the rest of Asia. Air transport remains difficult to access with few international direct flights besides Kuala Lumpur, Penang, and Singapore. Recently, AirAsia launched flights from Medan to Bangkok, providing a new access for travelers touching down in Bangkok as their first point of entry.
What effect might this have on Lampung tourism? According to Sami Muhtarom, who works at the Lampung provincial Office for Culture and Tourism, the city and the province expects benefits from hosting the show. “Lampung is very famous for its natural scenery, with the most iconic sight being Krakatau volcano, home to two of Indonesia’s largest national park reserve. Way Kambas Nature Reserve is a 130,000 ha area of swamp and lowland forest where wild elephants live in a conservation area and where rare tapirs and rhinos can be observed. We also have a wild dolphin habitat in Kiluan bay,” he said. The volcano is part of big colorful celebrations durig “Festival Krakatau,” which will take place at the same time as the TIME event.
According to data released by the Provincial Office of Tourism, Lampung has been experiencing a surge in total tourist arrivals over the last 3 years. In 2008, the province welcomed 1.458 million visitors, including 10,028 foreign travelers. Last year, total arrivals to Lampung reached 2.174 million, including 37,503 foreign visitors.
“Surfing is turning into a very popular activity for foreign travelers, especially Tanjung Setia, an area on the west coast of West Lampung District,” explained Sami Muhtarom. As Bandar Lampung has no international air flights – and it is unlikely that this would happen anytime soon – the entry point is Jakarta or Bali. “Most surfers would come by plane up to Branti airport, the main air point for Lampung. Then they go overland in 6 hours to reach Lampung Barat west coast,” described the representative of the Provincial Tourism Office.
A positive development would be boosting infrastructures and tourism facilities. “We hope that the shifting of TIME to Lampung over the next two years will indeed help establish the Province as one of our top global travel destinations. It will attract more tourist arrivals to the island and speed up the improvement of infrastructure and encourage more investors to the region to develop new hotels, as well as tourism attractions,” estimated Chairwoman and Steering Committee of TIME 2011, Mrs. Meity Robot.
TIME 2011 is supported by the travel and tourism industry in Indonesia, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Lampung Provincial government, Garuda Indonesia as the official carrier, and also other supporting airlines, members of the Indonesia National Air Carriers Association (INACA), the Board of Airline Representatives in Indonesia (BARINDO), the Association of Indonesian Tours and Travel Agencies (ASITA), the Indonesia Hotels and Restaurant Association (PHRI), the Indonesian Conference and Convention Association (INCCA), and Titan Convex as the event organizer.