Indonesia Prepares New Strategy to Meet 2019 Tourist Arrival Target
Jakarta. When President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo set out to double Indonesia’s foreign tourist arrivals within the five years of his presidency, many were sceptical.
Now, the target seems to be within reach. Combined government efforts that included the massive development of airports and tourist destinations, aggressive digital promotions and a visa-free policy have, along with the weakening rupiah, attracted 16,2 million foreign tourists to Indonesia last year, which is 71 per cent more than four years ago.
Still, some setbacks were unavoidable. A series of volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and tsunamis over the past 12 months, as well as the tragic crash of Lion Air flight JT-610 into the Java Sea near Jakarta, resulted in the government missing its target to woo 17 million foreign tourists last year.
Industry players worry that the bad image created by these disasters would take long to erase and thus undermine the country’s ability to attract 20 million foreign tourists this year.
The Indonesian government’s ‘10 New Balis’ directive is poised to open up myriad tourism opportunities across the country, but investors, hotels and tour operators are seeing varying levels of readiness on the ground that are as distinct as the destinations themselves.
Dadang Rizki Rahman, deputy minister for destination and industry development, Indonesia Ministry of Tourism, said: “Based on our experience in the last three years, there is a strong correlation between investment and the growth of arrivals. The more arrivals a destination gets, the bigger the investment poured into it.
“That explains why Bali, Jakarta and Riau Islands (the top three destinations in the country) continue to attract investments and the number of hotel rooms keeps growing.”
“Indonesia is situated on the Ring of Fire; we could not predict or prevent any disaster. What we need now, is to work extra hard to ensure that the world knows that when disaster strikes here, all tourists and local residents are well cared for,” said Elly Hutabarat, chairwoman of the Indonesian Travel Agent’s Association (Astindo).
She cited Mexico as an example of a country that had just been hit by an earthquake, but still managed to quickly revive its tourism industry.
“We see Mexico, which had just experienced an earthquake, is responsive and is able to give up-to-date information to the world. Such efforts are able to quickly revive their tourism industry,” Elly said.