ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Govt to link tourism sites across ASEAN
The Tourism Ministry plans to work with counterparts in other ASEAN countries to draw up a cultural tourism package that will connect domestic sites with various destinations in neighboring countries.
The integrated tour package aims to achieve 12 million cultural-based visits to Indonesia by 2019.
The ministry’s assistant deputy for cultural tourism destination development Lokot Ahmad Enda said the integrated tour package could be applied, for example, to the Cheng Ho maritime route.
The tour package, named after the legendary Chinese admiral and launched in Indonesia in February, could involve locations in other countries such as Vietnam and Malaysia that Cheng Ho also visited.
“Why not [connect the Cheng Ho package with] ASEAN also? We think we should have a product that connects all the destinations, with a minimum of three countries [in the package],” he said on Friday.
He said Batam, Semarang in Central Java and Cirebon in West Java were included in the Cheng Ho package and Aceh and Palembang in South Sumatra would be included in the future.
He added that Malaysia already had the Cheng Ho Cultural Museum in Malacca, which could be developed and connected with Indonesian sites.
“Getting 12 million foreign visitors for cultural, religious and historical tourism is very hard to do alone,” he said.
He said the full integration of the tour package would likely be launched during ASEAN’s 50th anniversary in 2017.
Previous efforts to integrate tourism destinations include the Trail of Civilization cooperation between Indonesia and five other ASEAN countries in 2006, which connected Hindu-Buddhism cultural sites such as Borobudur in Indonesia and Angkor Wat in Cambodia.
Tourism, with its high potential as a socioeconomic driver and tool for development, has long been identified as one of the 12 priority sectors that will help speed up the integration of ASEAN countries.
Based on a European Union Center report, tourism contributes approximately US$256 billion to ASEAN’s GDP.
Total tourist arrivals amounted to more than 105 million in 2014, an increase from 102.2 million visits in 2013, according to ASEAN data.
Meanwhile, Indonesia has long championed its diverse culture, which attracts 60 percent of foreign visitors, above ecotourism, which accounts for 35 percent of total tourist visits, according to the ministry’s survey.
Erina Loo from the Southeast Asia Tourist Guides Association said she was optimistic about the outlook for tourism integration as there were no major transportation problems in the region because of the availability of low-cost airlines, among other factors.
“When people travel long haul, for more than seven hours, they explore two to three countries. They will not just come here for one country,” Erina said.
She added that Indonesia could also look at the traces of its Majapahit and Sriwijaya empires for future destinations to be developed with other countries. Association of Indonesian Tours and Travel Agencies (Asita) chairman Asnawi Bahar said industry players were ready to back up the government’s plan.
“We will promote it together, even though I don’t know yet about the technical details. To integrate the packages like that, we have to sit together with the other countries,” he said.
Meanwhile, the ministry’s deputy Southeast Asia market development assistant Rizki Handayani said the plan would help Indonesia to reach new markets such as Middle Eastern tourists who currently preferred Malaysia. - See more at: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2015/12/05/govt-link-tourism-sites-across-asean.html#sthash.cQIb8Fyr.dpuf
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