The government says it is developing a special-interest tourism program to promote the nation’s unique shopping and culinary assets overseas.
According to Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Mari Elka Pangestu, the ministry was currently surveying the nation with the Indonesian Tourism Board (BPPI) to identify culinary and consumer attractions that could be promoted to tourists.
“We are doing the survey and we hope to get the results as soon as possible. We have so much homework in the tourism sector that we have to do,” she told The Jakarta Post on the sidelines of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Indonesia Tourism Dialogue on Friday.
Mari said that promoting special-interest tourism in Indonesia might be lucrative, as tourists tended to spend their money on purchasing gifts and local cuisine when travelling in the country.
The ministry previously included cuisine as a sub-sector of the creative industry.
Other sub-sectors in the creative industry include handicrafts and fashion, music and film, design, architecture, publishing, games and the performing arts.
The potential for special-interest tourism was currently realized only in three areas of the nation: Jakarta, Bandung, West Java; and Bali, Mari said.
The nation’s capital — home to almost 170 malls — offers many places for high-end shopping, such as Pacific Place, Mall Kelapa Gading, Plaza Senayan, Senayan City, Grand Indonesia and Plaza Indonesia.
In addition, those malls also sell traditional Indonesian crafts such as batik, songket, ikat weaving, embroidery and wooden statues.
Mari said Jakarta was also home to another shopping destination: Tanah Abang, the largest wholesale market in Asia, visited by more than one million local shoppers and tourists a day, and up to two million people a day during Ramadhan month.
Bali had shopping centers, too, Mari said, such as the Kuta shopping center and Galeria Nusa Dua.
Meanwhile, Bandung was a favorite destination for bargain hunters, due to its many outlet stores, and for culinary tourists as it offered many local and international dishes, the minister said.
“We are still struggling to find the iconic dishes for Indonesia, but so far we have strongly promoted nasi goreng, rendang, sate ayam, luwak coffee, and Torajan coffee to the world,” she said.
Last year, the Global Travel Intention Survey conducted by Visa showed that cuisine was among the things enjoyed by foreign tourists when visiting Indonesia.
According to the survey, 52 percent of 11,620 respondents from 23 countries such as Malaysia, Australia, China, Germany, the US, Russia and Brazil, loved tasting local cuisine during their stay in Indonesia.
The survey also said that 64 percent of tourists surveyed were willing to spend more money on food.
According to government statistics, 7.65 million foreign tourists came to Indonesia in 2011, up 9.24 percent from 2010.
This year, the Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry aims to attract 8 million foreign tourists. (nfo)