Indonesia inches towards digitization to boost tourism sector - Tourism Indonesia


Sunday, March 26, 2017

Indonesia inches towards digitization to boost tourism sector

In the era of information technology, digitization is a fundamental driver of economic growth, as it helps to create jobs, boost innovation, ensure diversification of products, and improve services.

Digitization of the tourism industry is also deemed necessary, as at least 70 percent of the tourists use digital media for searching, booking, and making payments.

As part of the digitization program, the Indonesian Tourism Ministry has developed a digital travel marketplace platform called the Indonesian Travel X-Change (ITX Marketplace) and has used Mobile Positioning Data (MPD) to collect information on the number of tourist arrivals since last year. 

At present, some 70 percent of Indonesias travel agents have joined the ITX platform.

"Initially, travel agents using a manual system had protested against the online travel agent (system) and had called on the government to close the online platform. However, I told them that the use of an online system is a must. Hence, instead of banning online travel agents, we provide an online travel platform for manual travel agents," Tourism Minister Arief Yahya stated during a workshop titled "The Use of Mobile Positioning Data for Tourism Statistics" held in Nusa Dua, Bali, recently.

The use of a manual system has become outdated and might no longer be used, he noted.

The Tourism Ministry has organized road shows in several regions to introduce and encourage the tourism industry players, such as hotels, restaurants, theme parks, water parks, car rentals, souvenir shops, airlines, tour operators, tour agents, and tour guides, to join ITX.

Thousands of travel agents have used the free ITX platform. With the ITX Market Place, travel agents do not have to invest individually on digitization. 

The big data MPD to support tourism activities is collected by Indonesias Central Bureau of Statistics (BPS) by detecting the cellular phones used by visitors entering Indonesian territory from several gates, including from land borders with neighboring countries.

The BPS has used MPD since October 2016, and it has been useful since several of Indonesias border entry points lack immigration offices.

Of the 29 districts located in the border regions, 19 lack immigration checkpoints. 

Minister Yahya noted that the MPD system has helped to address the challenges faced by Indonesia, which is an archipelagic nation with multiple border entry points.

"Data processing can be used for three P aspects: performance, promotion, and projection. MPD is used to measure performance, while Big Data is used for promotion and projection," he revealed.

The ministry has set a target to attract 12 million foreign tourists this year and 20 million by 2019.

The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has lauded Indonesia for achieving a breakthrough by using MPD.

The use of MPD to obtain tourism statistics, however, should be supported by in-depth studies, John Kester, director of the Tourism Market Trends Program of UNTWO, pointed out.

"Detailed studies need to be conducted for us to find our consumers, understand the current trend, and realize the ongoing competition," he noted while speaking at the Bali workshop.

In addition to conducting detailed studies, effective strategies are also needed for the successful application of the MPD.

"There should be reflections, discussions, object determination, planning, executions, and good evaluations," he explained.

Another factor that affects the use of MPD is education of the human resources.

On February 2, 2017, Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific of UNWTO Xu Jing sent a letter to the Indonesian Tourism Minister lauding the countrys move to use MPD. 

Other countries that use the MPD system include Spain, Estonia, Belgium, and the Netherlands. 

At the local level, Banyuwangi District in East Java has also utilized information technology to promote its tourist destinations.

Azwar Anas, the Banyuwangi district head, launched an android-based tourism and culinary application called "Banyuwangi in Your Hand" on Mar 23.

"Banyuwangi In Your Hand is an innovation to offer convenience to the tourists visiting Banyuwangi. At the same time, it is in accordance with the tourism industrys market trend to bring about digitization in all areas," Anas stated.

The application uses augmented and virtual reality formats that can be viewed as videos, animation, and 3D. The application is also connected to Google Maps.

"This application will help the tourists visiting Banyuwangi for the first time, in particular. The application will show details of tourist attractions in Banyuwangi," he noted.

Yanuar Bramuda, head of the Banyuwangi tourist office, remarked that the "Banyuwangi in Your Hand" application will be connected to similar applications, such as "Europe in Your Hand" and "Australia in Your Hand," to promote Banyuwangi in Europe and Australia.

Located in the eastern tip of Java Island, Banyuwangi is also blessed with scenic beaches and mountains.

Ijen Crater located in the western part of Banyuwangi is famous for its scenic crater lake, the traditional sulfur miners who scale and descend the slopes of Mount Merapi, and the plantations covering the craters slopes.

The National Park of Meru Betiri is famous for Javan tigers and turtles.

Banyuwangi, termed as "the Sunrise of Java," had attracted some 80 thousand foreign tourists and 3.2 million domestic tourists last year owing to various festivals organized to promote tourism. 

Last year, Banyuwangi had planned at least 58 festivals, including 20 new events, such as the Canal Rafting Festival, Sailing Ship Festival, Underwater Festival, and Badeng River Tubing Festival, in addition to the Paddy Planting Festival and Fishery Festival, Anas pointed out.

This year, Banyuwangi has planned to hold 72 activities to enliven the 2017 Banyuwangi Festival.

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