Indonesia shores up tourism appeal through sports and cruises

The recovery of Indonesia’s tourism industry has picked up in recent months, and the country

The recovery of Indonesia’s tourism industry has picked up in recent months, and the country is intent on propelling it forward with the help of Singapore’s outbound market to reach, and eventually improve, pre-pandemic inbound visitation levels.

“Post-lockdown, Indonesia tourism has picked up twice its speed as compared to other industries, and therefore we need to move fast to capture the opportunities. Singapore is our number two inbound market, and data is very encouraging,” shared Sandiaga Uno, minister of tourism and creative economy, during the Wonderful Indonesia Sales Mission held last week in Singapore.

Minister of tourism and creative economy, Sandiaga Uno, speaking to industry stakeholders during the press conference

In the absence of China, Australians were the top visitors to Indonesia from January to June 2022 at 153,000, but Wonderful Indonesia Tourism Office’s country manager of Singapore Sulaiman Shehdek believes that Singaporeans, currently in the number two spot, can easily top Australia, once air capacity is fully restored.

At press time, airlift from Singapore to Indonesia stands at around 70 per cent. Representatives from Scoot and Garuda Indonesia, who were also present at the forum, shared that both airlines are in the process of ramping up its capacities.

Aside from Singaporeans, Sulaiman also put forth a suggestion for short-term visas of three to five days for expats and employment-pass holders based in Singapore, most of whom currently need visas to enter Indonesia. This would allow them to visit nearby Bintan and Batam, and encourage travel during long weekends and school holidays.

Ferry loads are also back on track, with Bintan Resorts’ group general manager Abdul Wahab confident that they will hit 60 per cent of 2019 levels by December.

Indonesia has also restarted sports tourism, such as the upcoming Ironman in Lombok, as well as MotoGP 2023. Sandiaga shared that hosting large events like the MotoGP has helped to bring in about US$350 million worth of economic impact in terms of investments, accommodations, and increasing the revenues of micro, small, and medium-size enterprises.

“I saw a massive increase in racing enthusiasts (who came for the MotoGP) choosing to stay in homestays, all of which were then sold out. There were close to around 4,000 homestays available, and the type of accommodation – which blends with nature – was a clear winner,” he said.

Cruising is another sector the ministry is looking into – aside from regional tourists, Indonesian agents are targeting longhaul markets such as Europe and North America, and are encouraging travellers to bask in Indonesia’s warmer climate during the frigid winter months.

To help speed things along, Sandiaga shared: “I have asked my team to fast track how we can receive more cruise ships, and construct the infrastructure (needed) in Bali and other ports. This will help tourists not only stay longer in the destination, but in other South-east Asian destinations.”

Finally, Indonesia will also promote cultural events, where the ministry has helped create at least 100 regional events spread across the country.

Sandiaga added that marketing promotions in Singapore will be “targeted”, and focus on “big data” that makes use of demographics and age brackets.

“There is no one-size-fits-all promotion. We’re also (planning to) do more cross-platform activations across radio, TV, and social media.”