Sunday, October 9, 2011

Bangka Belitung, Natuna named new cruise destinations

Indonesia will open new cruise liner destinations in Bangka Belitung Islands and Natuna following increasing demand from European travelers.

“The enthusiasm of Europeans to go to Bangka Belitung and Natuna is very strong and it shows that Indonesia’s maritime tourism industry is very promising,” Culture and Tourism Ministry marketing director Sadar Pakarti told The Jakarta Post over the phone on Sunday.

The plan came up after Indonesia participated in the three-day Seatrade Europe event, one of the leading events for sea or river cruises in the world, both for public and private operators of ferries and super yachts, held in Hamburg, Germany, on Sept. 27-29.

During the meetings with cruise itinerary designers, hotel managers and representatives of destinations, they said that they wanted Indonesia to open new destinations near Singapore.

Sadar said that the plan was also part of a cruising partnership between Singapore and Indonesia for six to seven-day trip packages.

“Bangka Belitung and Natuna have been put in the cruise itineraries,” he said.

In addition, Tanjung Priok in Jakarta, Tanjung Mas in Central Java and Tanah Ampo and Benoa in Bali, remain on the cruise destination list.

“This plan is going to be discussed further at the Cruise Shipping Asia event in Singapore in November,” Sadar said.

He said that state port operators PT Pelindo I and II were going to take part in the event so they could improve ports under their management in the new destinations.

As of September 2011, there were 178 cruise ship calls with 113,766 passengers coming to Indonesia, while in 2010, that figure stood at 198 calls with 94,228 passengers.

There are as many as 215 calls that have been scheduled for Indonesian ports next year, estimated to bring 137,279 passengers. The 2012 figure is likely to increase.

“We hope that we can expand our market to islands in the eastern part of Indonesia such as Alor, Rote and Larantuka,” he said.

Separately, Wita Tour CEO Rudiana said that it was not only Europeans who loved to go on cruises but also Indonesians.

“At least 600 Indonesians are using Wita Tour to enjoy cruise ship trips every year,” he said.

More than 50 percent of Indonesian cruise enthusiasts were cruising on the Royal Caribbean ships in the US, which cost US$6,000 to $7,000 per person, said Rudiana, who is also vice chairman of the Jakarta chapter of the Indonesian Tours and Travel Agencies (Asita).

Sadar said that one of the Royal Caribbean International ships, Legend of the Seas, was scheduled to anchor in Benoa on Jan. 16, 2012.

He said that state port operator PT Pelindo III was currently preparing the port to welcome the ship.

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