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As the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit draws near, the country’s meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE) sector is set to benefit from the influx of visitors.
This will be boosted by a series of smaller meetings that will precede the APEC Summit, which is scheduled for Oct. 5-7 in Bali.
“The most important thing is that MICE travelers, given their professional status, spend much more money than leisure travelers. On average, MICE visitor spending is about three times higher than that of leisure tourists,” Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry’s MICE director Rizky Handyani told The Jakarta Post over the weekend.
A series of meetings and workshops will be held in several cities including Jakarta, Batam, Bandung, Manado, Medan and Yogyakarta throughout the year, earning income for hotels, restaurants, airlines, transportation operators and souvenir merchants.
According to ministry data, a leisure tourist spent US$1,134 for a trip to Indonesia last year. Whereas each APEC attendee is projected to spend at least $3,402, excluding airline tickets and convention hall fees.
“With thousand of travelers, including the press, from APEC countries visiting [Indonesia], we will gain a lot of income. Most of all, we are strengthening our position as a MICE destination. [We hope] for bigger international events in the future,” Rizky said.
With 42 APEC-related meetings and workshops in 2013, Indonesia expects to attract more than 30,000 delegates and businesspeople, generating at least $105 million in income.
During the first APEC Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) that took place in Jakarta from Jan. 24 to Feb. 7, for instance, conference organizer Pacto Convex said that 1,300 delegates spent at least seven days in the capital city.
Pacto public relations manager Ika Nazaruddin also said the firm arranged transportation for the delegates to places in Jakarta such as restaurants and malls, showing the benefits of the meeting to the hospitality and retail sectors.
Separately, national flag carrier Garuda Indonesia vice president of communications Pujobroto said the airline planned to increase its services to Denpasar, Bali, during the summit in October to anticipate surging traveler demand.
Not only does Garuda plan to increase its Denpasar flights from Jakarta, it also plans to add more international destinations like Sidney, Seoul and Tokyo. In addition, Rizky said that APEC had encouraged Indonesia to improve its MICE and other supporting infrastructure including Ngurah Rai International Airport and the Nusa Dua toll road.
“For cities beyond Jakarta and Bali, this event should encourage local governments and industry to start developing their MICE sector,” she said.
In Bali, PT Dyandra Media International (DMI) is currently working on the expansion of its Bali Nusa Dua Convention Center (BNDCC) in order to accommodate up to 10,000 people. The 25,000 square-meter project with an investment of Rp 400 billion ($41.2 million) is expected to be finished in July.
“If we did not expand the BNDCC, Bali would not be able to accommodate all the delegates during APEC and WTO [World Trade Organization] as well,” DMI operational director Danny Budiharto said.
He also said the convention halls should have been built by the government, as in other countries like Singapore, Thailand, South Korea and Germany, because they were the raw materials needed to develop MICE.
As long as MICE was considered a small part of the country’s tourism industry, Indonesia would not be able to compete with those countries, he added.
For Jakarta, he said that the government needed to overcome the flooding and traffic problems otherwise the capital city would not be seen as an attractive MICE destination.
Rizky said that the ministry was aware of the issues. “We are still working on the nation’s MICE strategy with related government officials. This is going to be a big decision for our country and we hope that we can implement this strategy in the near future,” Rizky said