Indonesia, famous all over the world for its Bali island, is now ready to reveal its other hidden paradises to foreign as well as domestic tourists.
Trying to duplicate Balis tourism success, the nation is working to develop 10 new destinations located across the country.
The 10 places are Borobudur in Central Java, Mandalika on Lombok Island (West Nusa Tenggara), Labuan Bajo in Flores (East Nusa Tenggara), Bromo-Tengger-Semeru in East Java, Pulau Seribu in North Jakarta, Lake Toba in North Sumatra, Wakatobi in Southeast Sulawesi, Tanjung Lesung in Banten, Morotai in the northern region of Halmahera in the Maluku islands and Tanjung Kelayang in Belitung (Bangka Belitung).
The government has focused on developing and promoting the 10 new destinations, particularly through the "Wonderful Indonesia" promotion, to improve its tourism competitiveness globally, Tourism and Culture Minister Arief Yahya confirmed.
The various international tourism awards won by Indonesia so far has reflected the worlds recognition of countrys strength in the tourism field, he said.
The awards help promote Indonesian tourism, which is expected to lure 20 million foreign tourists and 275 million domestic tourists by 2019.
Indonesia won four PATA Gold Awards 2016 at the PATA Travel Mart (PTM) held at the Indonesian Convention Exhitibion (ICE) in Bumi Serpong Damai (BSD) in Banten Province, recently.
The four awards were respectively for the categories of marketing-primary government destination, heritage and culture, travel journalism, and travel journalism or industry business article.
The marketing-primary government destination award was given to Indonesia in recognition of the countrys success in promoting the total solar eclipse Indonesia event in March 2016 which managed to attract thousands of tourists.
Recently, Indonesia won a UN WTO (World Tourism Organization) award for the countrys achievement in developing tourism sustainable development in three districts - Pangandaran (West Java), Sleman (Yogyakarta) and West Lombok (West Nusa Tenggara).
Deputy Minister of Tourism in charge of international marketing I Gde Pitana recently revealed data showing that more than 40 percent of foreign tourists arrived in Bali.
The government believes that it is important to distribute these numbers to other regions which also have rich culture and scenic panorama.
The ten prioritized destinations will not be developed to resemble Bali as each of them has its own distinct characteristics.
"They each have their own combination of nature and culture to offer. Such diversity will make us rich in terms of attractions, culture and traditions," Yahya said earlier.
"The uniqueness of each region can be explored," he added.
The government hopes that tourism can account for eight percent of the nations overall GDP, generate Rp240 trillion (US$18 billion) in foreign exchange income and employ 13 million locals.
The government projects 12 million international visitor arrivals with a foreign exchange income of Rp172 trillion (US$13 billion) this year.
It also expects tourism to account for five percent of the nations GDP, and employ a total of 11.7 million locals.
Lake Toba is one of the 10 new destinations that has been given a priority in its tourism industry development.
Located in North Sumatra Proivnce, Lake Toba area is now being developed to transform the region, often envisioned as "Monaco of Asia," into a sustainable eco-tourism and MICE (meeting, incentive, conference, and exhibition) destination of international standard.
The government has promised funds to transform Lake Toba into a world class tourism object.
At present, the government is upgrading existing infrastructure and facilities as well as developing new ones for better connectivity, making the region more accessible.
Among the infrastructure being upgraded is Silangit Airport, which is located in Siborong-borong, North Tapanuli District, and Sibisa Airport in Toba Samosir District.
The North Sumatra administrations has provided a total of 600 ha plot of land in the Lake Toba authority zone for tourism purposes.
The government will among other things create a world-class flower garden and a botanical garden to support the Lake Toba tourism industry.
Last June, President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) had signed Presidential Regulation No. 49 of 2016 on establishment of the Board of Lake Toba Tourism Area Management Authority to help expedite Lake Toba development projects.
"The Lake Toba Authority will function for 25 years, until December 31, 2041, and the period could be extended," the regulation effective since June 13, 2016, said.
Minister Arief Yahya hoped to attract at least one million tourists to Lake Toba region by 2019. (Antara)