The Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry, along with the Indonesian Heritage Trust (BPPI), are enhancing promotional efforts to attract more visitors from the land of ginseng and kimchi, South Korea, as they look to boost the number of tourists by a third this year.
The number of tourists from South Korea was expected to reach around 400,000 people this year, up from 300,000 last year, said BPPI chairwoman Wiryanti Sukamdani, as the average number of outbound tourists of 20 million per year had made South Korea a promising market to tap into.
'In collaboration with the Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry, we traveled to South Korea last week to promote Indonesian tourist destinations,' Yanti told The Jakarta Post over the weekend.
During the visit, the BPPI held meetings with Indonesian Ambassador to South Korea John A. Prasetio, tour and travel agents as well as business players to attract more travelers ' whether for leisure or business ' to Indonesia.
The BPPI focused its promotional efforts on Busan, South Korea's second-largest city, while ministry officials visited the capital city, Seoul.
The reduction in the number of South Koreans visiting Thailand, due to the recent political upheavals, was a great opportunity for Indonesia to increase its promotional efforts in South Korea, Yanti said.
'Thailand is one of their favorite destinations for leisure breaks. We hope that we can tempt them to Indonesia,' she added.
Yanti said most South Korean tourists visited the country's marine tourism sites, with Bali topping the list.
'Bali is one of the most popular honeymoon destinations for South Koreans. We hope that in the future we can increase the number of South Korean tourists visiting places beyond Bali,' Yanti said.
Data from the tourism ministry confirms that most South Korean visitors entered the country via Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali. A total of 68,168 South Korean tourists visited Bali during the first half of this year, according to ministry spokesman Vincent Jemadu.
The country's main gateway, Soekarno Hatta International Airport in Tangerang, Banten, accounted for 50,200 South Korean visitors, while the third-busiest entry point was Batam Port, where 32,000 South Korean tourists entered the country via Singapore during the first six months of the year.
'We are optimistic that we can boost the number of South Korean visitors in the future, with a number of airlines operating flights to South Korea, including Garuda Indonesia, Korean Airlines and Cathay Pacific,' Vincent told the Post.
With 324,560 visitors coming to Indonesia in 2013, South Korea ranked sixth, behind Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, China and Japan, he added. That figure was up by around 7 percent compared to 2012.
Overall, 4.55 million foreign tourists visited the archipelago between January and June this year, up 9.56 percent from last year, Central Statistics Agency (BPS) data shows. That number is expected to reach 9.7 million by the end of this year, higher than the initial estimate of 9.5 million, due to the country's improving accessibility, according to Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Mari Elka Pangestu.