Indonesia to cast wider net beyond Jakarta, Bali
INDONESIA'S government will likely need to review its strategy in promoting its priority tourist destinations, as data shows that recent tourism investment mainly headed to just two popular regions.
During the first six months of this year, the country saw investment worth US$858.7 million (S$1.2 billion) coming into the tourist sector.
The tourism ministry's deputy for destination and tourism industry development Dadang Rizki Ratman, however, said most of the investment went only to Jakarta and Bali, the country's two main international gateways.
"This is our challenge - to encourage investors to invest outside those two places," he added.
Mr Dadang highlighted the importance of infrastructure development and upgrades in many other tourist destinations as it would become a key factor to attract investors to put their money to the industry.
The government is targeting the arrival of 20 million foreign tourists in 2019.
This year, a target of 12 million has been set, with almost half achieved in the first semester.
To match the popularity of other places with that of Bali, the country's No. 1 resort island, the government has selected 10 destinations to develop until 2019.
They include Lake Toba in Sumatra, Mount Bromo in Java, Mandalika resort area in West Nusa Tenggara, Labuan Bajo in East Nusa Tenggara, Wakatobi in Sulawesi, Cape Kelayang in Bangka Belitung, Cape Lesung in Banten and Morotai in Maluku.
Dadang said infrastructure, such as roads, airports and power plants, were in the works to support tourism activities and attract more investors.
The Kualanamu-Tebing Tinggi toll road, for example, was scheduled for completion next year.
It would give more access to Lake Toba, the world's largest volcanic lake.
Besides accessibility, intensive promotion was also necessary, said Babar Suharso, head of regional Investment Coordinating Board of Banten province.
Meanwhile, Indonesian Tour and Travel Agencies Association chairman Asnawi Bahar emphasised accessibility as an important point to attract more investors.
"It is understandable that investment is still concentrated in Bali and Jakarta because the two have international airports with many international routes. One thing for sure to attract more investors is accessibility," he noted.
Recently, the government announced a loan from the World Bank to expedite infrastructure development in and around Borobudur Temple, Mandalika and Lake Toba.
Indonesia boasts 17,000 islands blessed with scenic coastlines and inland potential, plus a market of more than 259 million people.
To propel its tourism industry, the country has also offered free visas to citizens of 169 countries and simplified yacht and cruise arrival rules.
THE JAKARTA POST