As spring approaches in South Korea, the Embassy of Indonesia in Seoul hosted an appreciation and networking night for around 40 prominent figures in the South Korean travel industry, such as the chairman, director and members of the Korea Association of Travel Agents (KATA). Also present at the event were Indonesia’s state-owned-enterprises (SOEs) in South Korea and media representatives, who introduced new tourist destinations.
The appreciation and networking night was held at the ambassador’s residence last week.
The embassy’s art and cultural relations official, Purno Widodo, told Antara on Tuesday that the networking event was also attended by representatives of Garuda Indonesia who promote Bali and Lombok. These two destinations have seen a declining number of visitors from Korea.
Although Indonesia is well-known among the Korean people, the number of Korean visitors to Indonesia is not as many as expected. There were 358,349 Korean travellers coming to Indonesia last year, but this number is 10 per cent lower than the previous year.
Among the many reasons for the decline are natural disasters, especially those that occurred in Lombok and Bali, the main destinations favoured by Korean travellers. One way to convince Korean travellers to return to Indonesia is through the Indonesian embassy’s intensive approach to KATA. The message is to persuade and instil confidence in Korean travel agents to promote and sell tour packages to Indonesia.
Indonesian ambassador to South Korea, Umar Hadi, took the opportunity to express his appreciation for KATA’s donation, made through the Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) for natural disaster victims in Central Sulawesi.
“You all have been true friends to Indonesia. We are very thankful for all your efforts to help Indonesia,” said Umar to the president of KATA.
Umar also highlights a few joint efforts to increase the number of Korean tourists coming to Indonesia, such as organizing familiarization trips for leaders of travel agents in 2019, to promote 10 “New Bali” destinations.
President of KATA, Yang Moo Seung, expresses his commitment to helping increase tourist visits from Korea to Indonesia and vice versa.
“I realize that Indonesia has great potential in tourism. But the number of visits is still not optimum and in line with the existing potential. Let us work together to make the most of every possibility,” he was quoted as saying.
Meanwhile, KATA chairman Henry C. Oh Jr. expects there to be more flights to and from popular destinations in both countries.
Another way to attract more visits to Indonesia is by filming Korean reality shows in Indonesia. Youn’s Kitchen, for example, which was aired on South Korean network TVN in early 2017, showed off Gili Trawangan in West Nusa Tenggara. Other shows include Law of the Jungle, which featured Sumatra and Komodo Island, Battle Trip with its Bali show and Running Man, which shows Yogyakarta.
Korean airlines to Lombok island
Korean Air Lombok | Korean Air chartered planes to start flying to Lombok in July
The seven flights are part of a pilot project that, if considered successful, might be followed up with the opening of regular flights by Korean Air from Incheon Airport to Lombok.
The number of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Malaysian and Singaporean tourists to Lombok increased significantly in 2016, with Malaysian tourists comprising the largest number with 12,000 per month because of a Air Asia’s decision to schedule flights three times a day from Kuala Lumpur to Lombok.
Chartered planes owned by Korean Air will begin flying to Lombok International Airport in West Nusa Tenggara starting on July 29. Seven planes will fly from Incheon Airport in Seoul, South Korea, between July and October, West Nusa Tenggara.
The number of Korean tourists to Lombok increased in recent months, boosted by the television broadcast of a Korean drama in the country. Scenes of the show were filmed in Lombok and Gili Trawangan, also in West Nusa Tenggara.
Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi has expressed the need for a stronger Indonesia – South Korea economic cooperation, especially industrial cooperation, to meet global economic development.
She conveyed the need to her South Korean counterpart, Kang Kyung-Hwa, during a bilateral meeting at the latter`s office, according to a written statement received here on Thursday.
The two ministers agreed on the importance of using various opportunities from the Special Strategic Partnership agreement made by President Joko Widodo and South Korean President Moon Jae-in in November last year.
“In the midst of the current protectionism trend, the two countries need to continue to intensify joint efforts by using various trade opportunities and boosting open economic system,” Marsudi stated.
Regarding trade cooperation, the Indonesian foreign minister hailed the hike in the value of two-way trade from US$13.68 billion in 2016 to $16.31 billion in 2017.
On investment cooperation, she encouraged South Korea to continue increasing its investment in Indonesia.
The value of South Korean investment in Indonesia increased by 100 per cent from $1.07 billion in 2016 to $2.02 billion in 2017.
Besides discussing bilateral cooperation, the two ministers also exchanged views on various strategic developments in the region and in the world.
The development of the peace process in the Korean Peninsula has also been one of the issues of special attention.