Indonesia has recently established its Directorate of Special Interest Tours, Convention, Incentive and Events Development, an initiative to improve the competitiveness of its tourism industry. The Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy Mari ElkaPangestu issued a statement describing the goal of the directorate as developing human resources, facilities and other standards necessary for Indonesia to become a “quality MICE destination.” The directorate will focus on destinations such as Jakarta, Jogjakarta, Surabaya, Bali, Lombok, Medan, Batam-Bintan, Padang-Bukittinggi, Makassar and Manado.Infrastructure projects are already in place for several cities, including a new airport in Lombok, and a new convention venue in Manado.
With tourism as its third largest sector in revenue, Indonesia is slated to welcome 8 million foreign tourists, with predictions that the number might reach 9.5 million in 2014. However, with the global financial crisis hampering tourism from the United States and Europe, Indonesia has sincereoriented its strategies toward attracting travelers from South Korea, India, Russia and China. According to official estimates, the number of Chinese tourists in 2011 visiting Indonesia was around 470,000. Indonesia intends on doubling that figure to 1 million tourist arrivals from China by 2014.
To boost tourism from China, Indonesia’s leading carrier PT Garuda Indonesia has expanded operations to Beijing, with plans to provide daily flights to Jakarta. Jakarta has also asked the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to expedite the implementation of a common visa for the 10-nation bloc, in order to further develop a presence in other tourism markets in Asia.
In addition, Indonesia is also capitalizing on its cultural ties to China. Indonesia is home to several tourist destination associated with the historic expedition of Chinese fleet admiral and diplomat Zheng He, who traveled to Indonesia over six centuries ago. Three mosques known as the “Zheng He Mosques” are located throughout the archipelago to commemorate his visit.