As Europe and the United States are being hit by global financial crisis, Indonesia has turned to new and alternative tourism markets such as ASEAN member nations, China, India and Arab states to ensure that foreign tourists will continuously flow in to the country.
Indonesia has been intensifying its tourism promotion activities to countries which are not directly affected by the crisis, such as China, India, Arab states and some ASEAN member nations.
"We are increasing tourism promotion in ASEAN, China, India, Russia, and Middle East nations to anticipate a drop in the number of European tourists and to achieve the target of nine million tourists this year," the tourism and creative economy ministry`s tourism marketing director general, Esthy Reko Astuti, said in Jakarta on May 25, 2013.
The tourism and creative economy ministry has set the tourist arrival target for 2015 at 10 million compared to 8.6 million-9 million for this year. Last year, nearly eight million foreign tourists visited Indonesia, up 5.04 percent from 7.6 million the year before, Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Mari Pangestu told the press recently.
"Economic experts have predicted stable and high economic growth in ASEAN member states, so it will be our opportunity amidst the sluggish economy globally," she stated.
The tourism ministry hopes to attract at least 3.5 million tourists from ASEAN, including 1.75 million from Singapore, 1.4 million from Malaysia, and 315,000 from the Philippines.
Last year, in fact, Singapore was the biggest source of tourist arrivals in Indonesia, followed by Malaysia, Australia, China, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Taiwan, the United States and Britain.
In addition to Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, Japan and South Korea, China is now one of the main markets for Indonesian tourism.
Data from the Indonesian Central Bureau of Statistics (BPS) showed the number of Chinese tourists visiting Indonesia in the first eight months of last year rose 25.54 percent to 412,698 over the same period in the previous year.
Based on the BPS data, the number of Chinese tourists rose by 24.19 percent in the year ending September 30, 2012, representing the second largest block of tourists visiting Indonesia after Egyptians, at 35.74 percent.
As the new economic super power, China has developed into a huge and potential tourism market. At least 80 million Chinese people traveled abroad annually and spent around US$102 billion.
Chairman of China`s National Tourism Administration Shao Qiwei in Beijing recently said at the average, every Chinese tourist abroad spent US$169 per night, or the sixth largest after tourists from Japan (US$190), Switzerland (US$182), Australia (US$177), the US and Norway (respectively US$174).
The main destinations of Chinese tourists include Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia.
Given the raising interest of the Chinese people to travel overseas, Indonesian Ambassador to China and Mongolia Imron Cotan has believed that Chinese tourists are very potential to contribute to foreign exchange earnings to Indonesia`s tourism industry.
"In the next five years, around 400 million Chinese people are expected to make overseas travels. This is a huge opportunity for Indonesia`s tourism," Ambassador Cotan said in his written speech read out by Indonesia`s Deputy Representative to China Wisnu Pratignyo, when launching a Bandung tourism road show in China, May 19-26, 2013.
In 2011, some 775,000 Chinese tourists visited Indonesia, and the number rose to 850,000 in 2012, with Bali as the main destination, followed by Jakarta and Yogyakara.
The number, however, is much smaller than 1.5 million Chinese tourists that visited other ASEAN member countries.
Therefor, having varied and interesting tourist objects, Indonesia has set a target of attracting one million Chinese tourists in 2013.
All stakeholders, both in Indonesia and China, must increase tourism promotion in order to help achieve the target, the ambassador urged.
Deputy chairman of Beijing Promotion Agency Yu Depin said in Beijing recently that in the next five years, there would be 400 million Chinese tourists visiting foreign countries opening the possibility for Indonesia to take advantage of the opportunity.
To facilitate the visits of Chinese tourists to Indonesia, the country`s flag carrier Garuda Indonesia in early May 2013 launched a Shanghai-Jakarta immigration flight service.
Ambassador Imron during the launch event in Shanghai said Garuda`s new Shanghai-Jakarta immigration flight service would increase the flow of Chinese tourists to Indonesia.
More than that, the opening of the Garuda flight from Shanghai to Jakarta would also increase the number of Chinese businessmen visiting Indonesia, he added.
Immigration on board provides a service where visa on arrival is granted aboard by immigration officials especially prepared during the flight on the Garuda flight to Jakarta. For this purpose, Garuda Indonesia cooperated with Directorate General of Immigration of the Ministry of Law and Human Rights.
To demonstrate the government`s seriousness in attracting Chinese tourists, several direct flights from Indonesia to a number of Chinese cities have also also been opened, such as Jakarta-Beijing, Jakarta-Shanghai and Jakarta-Guangzhou.
The government also provides Mandarin Chinese language lesson for guides, Minister Marie Eka Pangestu said recently.
A number of special packages for Chinese tourists are also being offered during their holidays such as Chinese New Year, Chinese National Day and during school holidays in China.
To lure Chinese tourists to Indonesia, "InFair 2012", the first-ever Indonesia-only tourism exhibition, was organized in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, from November 1 to 4, 2012.
China has also become a target of the "Beyond Bali" tourism campaign which promotes other tourist destinations in Indonesia, with Bali as a hub. Bali and Yogyakarta have been favourite destinations of Chinese tourists. The other targets of the campaign are Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, Japan and South Korea.
To promote other Indonesian cities, the government is developing 16 new destinations, according to Minister Pangestu.
The new destinations include Medan-Toba (North Sumatra) for geological tourism, One Thausand Islands (off northern Jakarta) for marine tourism, Jakarta for cultural heritage, Bromo-Tengger-Semeru (East Java) for ecological tourism, Menjangan-Pemuteran (Bali) for marine tourism, Rinjani (West Nusa Tenggara) for ecological tourism, Komodo (East Nusa Tenggara) for ecological tourism, Ende-Kelimutu (East Nusa Tenggara) for ecological tourism, Tanjung Puting (Central Kalimantan) for ecological tourism, Toraja (South Sulawesi) for cultural heritage, Bunaken (North Sulawesi) for marine tourism,
Wakatobi (Southeast Sulawesi) and Raja Ampat (Papua) also for marine tourism.
"We are drafting an action plan for the next three years to enhance marine tourism, particularly diving, sport travel, and cruise tourism," she said.
Besides exploring new and alternative tourism markets, the tourism ministry, however, still focuses on 16 countries including European nations which are considered very potential.
"We at least also focus on middle up to high class markets in European countries such as Russia, France, Britain, Germany and the Netherlands," she added. (Antara)