A man rowing in the vast Lake Toba, listed as a Special Economic Zone (KEK) and a priority destination. (Shutterstock/File)
Tourism is said to be the new star of Indonesia's economy based on the Tourism Ministry's recent three-year performance report announced on Oct. 17.
“Tourism offers the cheapest and easiest employment and contributes to the nation’s GDP and foreign exchange,” said Tourism Minister Arief Yahya.
Arief said the number of foreign tourists coming to the country has been increasing for the past three years, “According to the January to August data for this year, the number is up by 25.68 percent,” said Arief.
Compared to the ASEAN growth rate that is at seven percent, the number is 3.5 times higher and four times higher than the global growth rate that is at 6.4 percent.
Back in 2014 Indonesia welcomed 9.3 million foreign tourists. In 2015 the number went up to 10.4 million people, then in 2016 the number reached 12 million people and up until August this year the number has reached 9.2 million people.
Meanwhile, the number of domestic tourists is also increasing. In August this year, the number has reached 200 million tourists, higher than the original target of 180.5 million visitors.
Last year the number was 264 million domestic tourists, above the original target of 260 million and in 2015 the number was 256 millions, slightly higher than the original target of 255 million people.
The tourism sector is aiming for 20 million tourists by 2019.
Arief also mentioned about Indonesian tourism’s competitiveness index that was at the 70th spot back in 2013, then went up to the 50th spot in 2015 and is currently at the 42nd spot.
“This is due to our efforts in strengthening the Wonderful Indonesia brand and improving the 14 pillars by Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index [TTCI] and World Economic Forum,” he explained.
“In 2016, we took home 46 international awards from 22 countries. For this year, so far we’ve already won 22 awards from 10 countries,” he added.
Winning all these awards is said to be important for the tourism’s calibration, confidence and credibility.
“Winning an award increases the people’s confidence […] It is also to see whether the work that we’ve been doing is on the right path and to know of our position in the global scale,” Arief said.
Regarding credibility, these awards can become an effective marketing tool as well.
The minister moreover said that the future of tourism looks good especially since President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has continued to show his commitment to improve the tourism sector in Indonesia.
The President has appointed tourism as a leading sector and the nation’s main economic source and officiated the 10 New Priority Destinations, also known as 10 New Balis, comprising Lake Toba in North Sumatra, Tanjung Kelayang in Bangka Belitung, Tanjung Lesung in Banten, Thousand Islands in DKI Jakarta, Borobudur in Joglosemar, Bromo – Tengger – Semeru in East Java, Mandalika in Lombok, Komodo and Labuan Bajo in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT), Wakatobi in Southeast Sulawesi and Morotai in North Maluku.
Jokowi himself has visited most of these places such as Raja Ampat, Morotai, Labuan Bajo, Larantuka, Mandalika, Borobudur, Tanjung Lesung and Lake Toba.
He also attended several carnivals held in different cities in Indonesia such as Equator Carnival 2015 in Pontianak, Lake Toba Charm 2016 in North Sumatra and Bandung Parahyangan Carnival in 2017. (kes)