Indonesian cruise tourism has experienced its highest ever growth with a more than 40 percent increase in the number of calls and passengers during the year as more cruise liners, both long standing and new players, entered the country’s ports.
The Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry’s marketing director general, Esthy Reko Astuti, said 309 ports-of-call were made throughout 2013, up by 44 percent compared to 2012, while the number of foreign tourists brought to Indonesia aboard the cruise ships totaled 159,578, a 40.2 percent increase from last year.
“These are the best figures that have ever been recorded in our cruise industry’s history, and this is the result of continuous effort by all relevant stakeholders, and local governments and ministries,” Esthy said in Jakarta on Tuesday.
She said that Indonesia’s attendance at several major international sea-trade exhibitions, such as Cruise Shipping Miami that is the world’s premier annual event for the cruise industry, as well as port development across the archipelago, had resulted in cruise liners stopping off in Indonesia.
The country’s membership of the Cruise Down Under Association, which has allowed Indonesia to proactively promote itself in Australia, New Zealand and other countries across the Oceania Pacific region, has also played a role in this year’s growth.
In addition, the opening of the Marina Bay Cruise in Singapore benefited nearby countries, including Indonesia, as it was the home port of many people who wanted to explore Asia Pacific, she said.
“We want everyone to keep up the good work on further developing this sector, particularly port infrastructure, because this is a niche market that contributes a lot of revenue to the country,” she added.
The government did not have data on how much income was generated by this sector.
However, according to state-owned port operator PT Pelabuhan Indonesia (Pelindo III), a cruise ship would pay US$60,000 to make one stop in Benoa, Bali.
Moreover, Esthy said, the government remained optimistic that the cruise sector would see further significant growth next year, despite temporary data showing that 385 calls — corresponding to 203,000 passengers — were confirmed for 2014, which would mean around 25 percent growth.
She said the Transportation Ministry was working on dredging projects, while port operators Pelindo I through IV were expanding their ports.
Erlan Abbas, head of dredging and reclamation at the Transportation Ministry, said the ministry had allotted $77.2 million next year for dredging work at 19 ports nationwide, including seven ports that were popular with cruise companies, including Benoa; Tanjung Emas in Central Java; Kumai in Central Kalimantan; and Palembang in South Sumatra.
“Every port channel is going to be deepened by 1 to 2 meters next year so that larger cruise ships can safely enter them,” Erlan said.
Cruises represent one of seven special-tourism sectors that are being developed by the government to better promote Indonesia to the world.