With travellers worldwide crossing oceans to experience the wonders of Indonesia first-hand, the celebrated island destination is striving for major touristic development to complement its natural resources. Aleksandra Wood explores.
Indonesia, the world’s largest island country comprised of over 17,000 islands, is a vision of untainted nature, teeming with incredible opportunities for tourists. Set between the Indian and Pacific Oceans in Southeast Asia, this wondrous destination is growing in popularity due to its unique and highly eclectic offering, which quenches the thirst of adventure travellers the world over.
Director of communications, Hotel Mulia Senayan, Jakarta, Hanny Wahyuni Gunawan shed light on the destination’s appeal: “Tourism in Indonesia is rapidly growing, as Indonesia doesn’t just boast exquisite sceneries, but also diverse, rich cultures across the archipelago that attract tourists looking for an experience, not just a beach holiday.”
Statistics show that the destination has been growing from strength to strength over the past four years, with a recorded increment of 71 per cent in foreign tourist arrivals. Last year alone, a total of 15.8 million international arrivals were recorded, representing a growth of 12.58 per cent in comparison to 2017, with top markets including Malaysia (2.5 million arrivals), China (2.2 million arrivals), Singapore (1.8 million arrivals) and Australia (1.3 million arrivals).
This year, this verdant haven has set a target of welcoming 20 million travellers, and according to Gunawan, possesses all the necessary attributes to achieve this.
“Indonesia’s vast tourism resources are inclusive of diverse habitats, eight UNESCO World Heritage sites, affordability, a large and well-educated workforce, and a well-developed industry,” he explained.
Famed for its buzzing capital, Jakarta, and the captivating island of Bali, which is now being developed to serve as a main gateway to Indonesia and a hub for the eastern part of the archipelago, the country is currently working on increasing the visibility of the rest of its 17,000 islands, as confirmed by Deputy Minister, Tourism Indonesia Marketing Region II, Nia Niscaya: “We are now focusing on developing the country’s multitude of touristic destinations. We divided
development programmes into two categories: destination development and destination branding.”
As part of the destination development project, entitled ‘10 New Balis’, Indonesia’s Ministry of Tourism has initiated the enlargement of attractions, accessibility and amenities on 10 islands, which include Tanjung Kelayang, Borobudur, Lake Toba, Mandalika, Labuan Bajo, Bromo Tengger Semeru, Thousand Island, Tanjung Lesung, Wakatobi and Morotai.
Concurrently, the Ministry is banking on the branding of destinations that already boast the tourism infrastructure to welcome an influx of arrivals, such as Medan, Great Riau Island, Great Jakarta, Bandung (West Java), Banyuwangi (East Java), Joglosemar (Jogja-Solo-Semarang),
Great Bali, Lombok, Makassar and Coral Pearl (Bunaken-Wakatobi-Raja Ampat).
“The project has also established programmes to improve infrastructure, increase financing for tourism to around $177 million, implement sustainable tourism in 16 destinations, develop 10 special economic zones and develop nomadic tourism,” senior vice president, operations and development – Indonesia, Malaysia and Cambodia, Swiss-Belhotel International, Emmanuel Guillard revealed exclusively to TTG.
Right on cue for the big transformation, major hospitality brands have been making their presence known on the archipelago with newsworthy openings, including two very familiar players in the Middle East region – which could perhaps play a pivotal role in enticing travellers from the region to Indonesia. Dubai’s renowned Jumeirah brand is gearing up to inaugurate the long-awaited Jumeirah Bali this year, an opulent property that will grace the exclusive Jimbaran district, which will be home to 123 private villas set amidst lush and tropical gardens.
Meanwhile, Swiss-Belhotel International has substantially expanded its foothold in the region, with three openings on the island just last month.
Swiss-Belhotel Bogor in West Java launched in July following the rebranding of a 20-storey property, while Swiss-Belinn Gajah Mada Medan, the brand’s second hotel in the capital of North Sumatra, opened its doors a few days later. That same month, the thriving city of Serpong embraced the upscale Swiss-Belhotel Serpong, ultimately underlining Swiss-Belhotel International’s deep commitment to expansion in Indonesia, where the hospitality expert now operates more than 70 hotels and 10,000 rooms nationwide.
Indonesia’s aviation industry is next in line for substantial improvements, Swiss- Belhotel International’s Guillard told TTG: “The new Yogyakarta International Airport (NYIA) in the coastal area of Kulon Progo Regency [began] operating its international terminal in April this year, offering direct flights to and from Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. There are also future potential opportunities for route launches from countries such as Qatar, Turkey, the UAE, Japan and Australia.”
Further to this, starting from September 1, 2019, Malaysia’s leading low-cost airline, AirAsia, will adopt flights from Jakarta to Sorong, West Papua; Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara; and Semarang, Central Java, offering a capacity of 180 seats each way.
Road infrastructure has not been overlooked by Indonesia’s leading entities, with the Jakarta Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) having been introduced in March, whilst the Light Rapid Transit (LRT) is anticipated to be operational by the end of this year as well. And with new toll roads to support mobility currently in the process of completion in regions such as Sumatera, Java, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Papua, connectivity is in for a major upgrade.
“The development of infrastructure, especially on the eastern part of Indonesia, will provide easier access from one point of interest to another. On the other hand, the creation of some new attraction spots, such as waterfalls and recreation parks, will boost local tourism,” general manager, The Oberoi Beach Resort, Bali and The Oberoi Beach Resort, Lombok, John Halpin opined.
Indonesia would not be the touristic oasis that it is today were it not for its natural beauty of green fertile rice fields, glimmering white sand beaches, vast savannahs and tropical rainforests. So, it is only expected that the destination should keep the sustainability of its natural surroundings at the forefront of its touristic development.
Halpin stated: “Well-travelled tourists are becoming more conscious on the importance of contributing to sustainable tourism. They are keen to support or revisit the place where the locals are taking care of the environment, as they will get the benefit of it too.”
The environment represents a very real tourism asset for Indonesia, as it is inseparable from its offering and therefore incredibly fragile.
In a comprehensive analysis, Deputy Minister Niscaya elucidated: “In theory, the relationship between the natural environment and tourism must be mutual and beneficial. Visitors enjoy the beauty of nature and the income paid by tourists is utilised to protect and preserve nature for the sustainability of tourism. The relationship must be a symbiotic one that is supportive and profitable so that conservation, appreciation and education efforts are carried out.”
Hospitality brands within the country, such as Swiss-Belhotel International, remain fully dedicated to sustainable practices through initiatives such as regular beach clean-up drives, as well as the elimination of single-use plastics, as Guillard explained.
In accordance with this, Gunawan of Hotel Mulia Senayan, Jakarta, said: “We put a comprehensive effort towards environmental awareness, starting from something as simple as the towel replacement initiative, which involves the participation of guests, to energy saving and selecting products that are easy to recycle.”
In a befitting conclusion, Deputy Minister Niscaya shared encouraging words of the archipelago’s touristic prowess to TTG: “Having stopovers in a myriad of places in Indonesia is what makes this country a wonderful place to visit – the beauty of scenic natural landscapes, blended with the uniqueness of its people. Enjoy the untouched beaches, mountains, lakes and many more pleasing destinations, as well as the magnificent city skylines throughout the country. And when you decide to see them all, a single visit will not be enough to embrace the wonders of Indonesia.”