Indonesia is home to some of the world’s most stunning beaches, jungles mountainscapes and islands, yet tourists who have visited the country in the past have most often headed to the main resort of Bali, or the glittery malls of Jakarta.
Now, Arief Yahya, the minister of tourism, has renewed efforts to make Indonesia a top travel destination and the results of his efforts are starting to be seen with the country outflanking its neighbours for tourist growth.
Yahya has implemented a number of new strategies to boost tourism in established areas, including targeting visitors from new countries, as well as developing infrastructure in outer regions. The improvement can already be seen with a vast amount of tourists already visiting the country this year. The Central Statistics Agency shows that from January to June there were 4.2m foreign visitors to the archipelago. This is a 19.34% increase on the previous year.
Indonesia is now outpacing its regional neighbours, including the tourism giant Thailand.
Recent data published in the Business Times shows that Singapore tourism growth from January to April this year was only 4.4%. Chinese reports have stated that so far in 2017, tourist arrivals in Malaysia have contracted 0.5%.
Thailand has welcomed a total of 12.02 million visitors in the first 4 months of the year. This is an increase of 2.91% from the same period last year.
The booming growth of Chinese tourists in the region has made up most of the increase in foreign visitor arrivals to Indonesia, contributing 13.9% of all tourists. The second largest group of visitors came from Singapore with 9.83%, followed by Australian tourists at 7.91%. In fourth place was Indian visitors at 4.19%
Tourism Minister Yahya stated that 40% of all tourists that arrive go on to visit Bali and 30% head to the capital Jakarta. 20% visit the Riau Islands and the remaining 10% visit other parts of the archipelago.
Tourists visiting Bali are most often visiting for the beaches, jungles and the resorts, while those visiting Jakarta are often coming for business purposes or shopping.
The tourism minister has singled out the following locales as places that will be marketed to foreign countries: Bandung, Medan, Surabaya, Yogyakarta, Raja Ampat, Banyuwangi, Lombok and Makassar. Support for these areas includes the construction of new roads and railways and developing local airports into international facilities.
The minister aims to welcome over 20 million tourists to Indonesia by 2019.