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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs  26 October 2010

Indonesia needs revised tourism image

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The lack of a positive security image and inadequate cooperation among tourism industry stakeholders have hurt Indonesia's tourism image so that foreign tourists are reluctant to visit the country.

"Indonesia needs to improve its image and assurance of safety," the director of Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Kaye Chon, said during a seminar on international tourism business opportunities for 2011-2015 in Jakarta.

Chon said terrorism and frequent demonstrations had deteriorated Indonesia's image. He said, for example, the 1998 racial tension had discouraged Chinese tourists from visiting Indonesia.

Chon added Indonesia also needed to simplify entry procedures at airports, saying visitors' first impressions were formed at entry points.

"My wife always complains when we visit Bali because there are many procedures we have to go through at the airport," he said.

Tourism Intelligence International managing director Auliana Poon said collaboration among related stakeholders, both in private and public sectors, were important to create a worthy tourism experience. "In tourism, it is the experience you are selling," she said, adding that there were many elements that could impact on a tourist's experience when traveling such as delayed flights, missing luggage and transportation difficulties.

She said only by working together as a group could the system work well. "The government can't say, for example, it will provide a clean and safe environment for tourists, when the private sector is doing something else." Poon also said Indonesia needed to improve its transportation system to accommodate tourists' needs, such as developing airport capacity and hiring more customs officers.

Improving the transportation network was also needed to allow easier access to tourism sites, which normally are separated and far from each other, she added.

"Indonesia has many assets from nature, culture, history, people, wildlife and great cuisine," Poon said.

She said utilizing Indonesia's potential would benefit the country if it could involve local community participation and focus on local cultures to attract tourists.

"Tourism has shifted nowadays and now tourists are more aware of the local community and want to be involved in it," she said.

Chon also said Indonesia needed to develop community-based tourism in every region and each community should have something unique to offer tourists.

Indonesia aims to have 7 million tourists by 2010. Culture and Tourism Ministry's marketing director general Sapta Nirwandar said the number of visiting tourists had reached 65 percent of the target as of August.

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