ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Indonesia eyes larger slice of global tourism pie
PROBOLINGGO, East Java: Indonesia is eyeing a larger slice of the global tourism pie when ASEAN markets itself as a single tourist destination when it becomes an integrated community in 2016.
The tourism sector contributed about 9 per cent to the Indonesian economy in 2014 and the current government wants to increase this to 15 per cent by 2019. Hence it is aggressively promoting tourism, making it easier for tourists to visit the country.
In April, the government scrapped visa requirements for 30 countries and visitors from another 45 countries can expect to have visa-free entry by the end of 2015.
“We are very happy that now visitors from 90 countries have free visas; 75 are non-reciprocal," said Noviendi Makalam, Director, International Marketing, Indonesian Tourism Ministry. “There are plans to add some more. Australia is not on the list; we hope to have Australia because more than one million Australians visited Indonesia in 2014.”
Indonesia recorded about five million visitor arrivals in the first half of 2015, and the Tourism Ministry said it is on track to hit 10 million visitors at the end of this year.
Located in the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park in East Java, the iconic Mount Bromo is among the 10 most popular destinations among foreign visitors to Indonesia.
To get to the foot of Mount Bromo – which remains an active volcano - visitors have to traverse an expanse of sand either by foot or on horseback. The fine volcanic sand spans more than 5000 hectares and the overall landscape is truly unearthly.
Mount Bromo attracts both local and foreign visitors and those Channel NewsAsia spoke to here agree that, as a destination, Indonesia has many positives.
“We’ve enjoyed being in Indonesia, especially the spicy food,” said Swiss tourist Roland Friederich. “The culture is totally different, and the landscape here at Mount Bromo is completely different to what you’ll find in Switzerland - we have mountains, but not the same mountains.”
Indonesian visitors feel the country’s the tourism sector has a lot of potential. “For me, I want to visit my own country first,” said Indonesian Bellinda Perwira. “There are many nice places we’ve not visited. This is my first time at Mount Bromo - and it’s good.”
Hotels have also benefited from the increase in visitor arrivals in the country, with some creating programmes to encourage tourists to extend their stay.
“Most visitors come to Bromo to see the sunrise and then they go back,” said Suntono Hadi, Assistant Operations Manager, Jiwa Jawa Hotel. “We can bring them to visit nearby villages, to see how the locals live, how they cook and what they eat.”
Stakeholders believe Indonesia’s efforts to promote tourism will have a positive spillover effect on its neighbours in Southeast Asia. As countries become more integrated and as connectivity improves, visitors will get to explore much more of what the region can offer.
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