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Jakarta Post

Indonesia lags behind Thailand in attracting Russian tourists

  • Dzulfiqar Fathur Rahman

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Mon, July 6, 2020   /   07:34 pm
Indonesia lags behind Thailand in attracting Russian tourists Tourists visit Melasti Beach in Badung regency, Bali, on June 24. (Antara/Fikri Yusuf)

Indonesia is lagging behind neighboring Thailand in attracting tourists from Russia because of limited direct flights and fewer promotional activities, which presents an opportunity for tourism businesses.

With 158,943 tourists from Russia visiting Indonesia last year, Russia is among the top-20 sources of foreign tourists for the archipelago. Indonesia is not in Russia’s top-10 largest travel destinations, while Thailand is.

Attracting more Russian tourists is difficult for Indonesia, largely because there is only one airline serving a direct flight between the two countries, said Anna Prikhodko, manager of the Visit Indonesia tourism office in Russia.

Rossiya Airlines serves a direct flight from Moscow in Russia to Denpasar in Bali, where Russian tourists are the fourth-largest contributor to foreign visitors.

Thailand has been able to attract a larger share of Russian tourists than Indonesia because there are many direct flights from several cities in Russia to Bangkok or Phuket, among other destinations.

“We need to do several things to make Indonesia the number-one holiday destination on Russians’ wish list,” Anna said in a virtual discussion. “The first step is to support Denpasar-Moscow flights.”

Bali, which relies heavily on tourism for its economic growth, welcomed 63,968 Russians tourists between January and May, marking a decline of 11.58 percent from the same period in 2019.

The government is now preparing to reopen Bali’s tourism in hopes to speed up recovery after the province recorded a near 100 percent year-on-year decline in total foreign tourist arrivals in May.

But Russians do not only visit Bali. Many also travel to Lombok in West Nusa Tenggara, according to Sigit Witjaksono, the acting third-region marketing director at the Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry.

“We expect other destinations to be ready, including Batam and Bintan [in Riau Islands], Yogyakarta and Labuan Bajo [in East Nusa Tenggara],” Sigit said.

He added that the government was expecting tourism to recover from the pandemic-induced downturn starting in the last quarter of this year or the first quarter of 2021.

Indonesia is already seeing signs of recovery with a 3.10 percent increase in foreign tourist arrivals to 163,646 in May from April.

Paul Edmundus Tallo, chairman of the Indonesia Inbound Tour Operators Association (IINTOA), said on Friday that Indonesia needed to step up its promotional efforts to attract more Russian tourists by, among other things, partnering with tour operators.

“Promotion is a must in tourism,” said Paul. “I myself normally go to travel fairs or sales missions in other countries three times a year.”