Up to the end of September 2012, Foreign Investments (PMA) in the Tourism sector in Indonesia doubled compared to the same period in 2011.
The announcement of this massive surge comes on the dawn of Indonesia’s partnership with ITB Berlin in March 2013. During ITB Asia in Singapore, ITB Berlin News met with Nia Niscaya, Director of International Promotion - Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy for Indonesia. We asked Nia to tell us a little more about the current strategy of the Indonesian government with regards to tourism on a global scale…
We are spelling out our strategy called “16-16-7”. We focus on 16 regional markets of particular interest to the foreign visitors; we have developed 16 new destinations beyond Bali, from Sumatra to Papua, primarily sea-front destinations. We have developed 7 special interests including golf, culture, heritage, culinary tourism and wellness, including spa resorts. We believe that this strategy will help us attract more tourists from overseas. We have been cooperating with numerous related institutions in order to support the tourism destination infrastructure, including major improvements to roads and airports. Bali’s Denpassar airport has very heavy traffic, and renovations will be completed there in time for the APEC meeting next year. Major road works are also being carried out in preparation for APEC. Furthermore at Jakarta airport, expansion works will be completed by 2014, enabling the throughput of 80-million passengers per year. We are currently running at around 40-million, and the airport was only designed to handle 15-million passengers. These improvements will be a great boon to tourism in coming years.
You are official destination partner for ITB Berlin. What was the motivation for this?
We believe that ITB is the best travel trade show in the world. Of course, as an official partner country, we want to send a strong message to the world that we want to lift up our status, and we are able to attract increasing numbers of foreigners to Indonesia much like other top tourist destinations, which is why we want to get more exposure on Indonesia during ITB Berlin.
What source zones are you interested in? Where are your main source clients for Indonesia?
When we look at historic or empirical data, our 5 key source markets are geographically very close: Singapore, because it’s only 1 hour 10 minutes flying time, and then Malaysia, Australia, China and Japan. Of course, we still have Europe, which is really why we want to have a big presence at ITB. Firstly because it is the biggest, but also because we want to maintain the European market as there is a long history there. I think we started promoting Bali in the 1930’s in Europe. In terms of source markets within Europe, the first is UK, followed by France, then Germany and the Netherlands. Germany also has positive growth. The difference between European tourists and the others is their spending power. They are much better than others in this respect. Then there is the length of stay, because due to the geographical distance, most European tourists stay at least 2 weeks. But from neighbouring countries, it’s only 3 days or up to a week on average, and they don’t spend as much as European visitors.
There are so many cultures within Indonesia, how would you most simply describe Indonesia as a destination for people in Western Europe?
It’s not easy to describe Indonesia in one sentence, because we are the biggest archipelago country; we have over 17,000 islands, and Bali is only one of the 17,000. We have over 300 ethnic groups and 700 veritable ethnic languages, so we are rich with culture, and of course in nature. How do we describe this? Whatever you are looking for, we have! But more than anything, what makes us different from others is the people. We live in various cultures, we live in a big country, very separate from each other, so we get used to living in harmony and different among languages. We always like smiling… it’s a part of our culture. In every ethnic group in Indonesia, we have a welcome dance; it shows that we are very welcome to the guests. In every family, we have guest rooms, even special plates and spoons for the guests. Indonesian people love to welcome guests and really want to make them happy.
As the months come along and as ITB arrives in Berlin, you will have a lot of stories to tell… It must be difficult for you to communicate on so many levels.
You’re right! There are so many things to tell. I think with ITB we’ll show you all this, and then we can have a partial taste during the exhibition. People will be able to see, with our daily performances, different parts of Indonesia and also our fabulous variety of culinary specialties. Even cnngo.com awarded the most delicious food to dishes like Beef Rendang. We also have Satay Ayam or Chicken Satay, or Gado-gado… the list goes on!
It is said that for tourism to work for a country today, it has to have some differentiation or surprise effect; so what you’re telling me actually is that people who come to Indonesia are in for a surprise?
Yes. As I’ve told you, what makes the difference is the people. We do care, and the heart matters. I think that’s what makes us different… the heart matters. Care is part of our culture, and I have often had potential visitors ask what the difference is between a spa in Indonesia and one in another country. Those who have been to Indonesia say the difference is “a soft finger and a warm heart”. I think that goes for all our people… it’s the difference between Indonesian people and others.
Nia Niscaya, Director of International Promotion - Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy for Indonesia says while 16 new destinations will be promoted at ITB, what really differentiates Indonesia is the people...