The government is working to attract more Indian tourists to the country by cooperating with and encouraging travel agencies to include Indonesia on the itinerary of Indians visiting Malaysia and Singapore.
Travel agencies will be expected to promote several destinations to Indian tourists on their visits to the two neighboring countries.
India is a top five source of foreign tourists to Indonesia, recording the second highest growth in arrivals last year.
Number of Indian Visitors grew 30% last year
The number of Indians traveling to Indonesia has risen by 30 percent to 485,000 tourists, second only to China, which grew by 40 percent.
This year, the government is aiming at attracting 700,000 tourists from India, in its bid to welcome 17 million foreign tourists in total. However, the limited number of direct flights between Indonesian and Indian cities is expected to hamper these efforts.
Travel agents expected to include Indonesia on itinerary
“We are opening the door for [tourists] visiting Malaysia and Singapore, which have been attracting more [Indian] tourists,” the Tourism Ministry’s undersecretary for marketing development II Nia Niscaya said on Friday.
Direct flights connecting Indonesian and Indian cities are only served by national carrier Garuda Indonesia, which opened its Mumbai-Denpasar route in April.
The ministry noted that 1 million Indian tourists visit Malaysia and Singapore each year, from which it expects to attract at least 10 percent.
Nia said the government is trying to work with travel agents that cater for tourists visiting Singapore, as Indian tourists can enter the country visa-free.
She also added that given the limited amount of destinations in Singapore, which might only require two days to explore, the rest of their holiday can be spent in Indonesia.
The ministry has been working for Bintan and Batam in Riau Islands, as well as Jakarta, to be included in the itinerary of tourists visiting Malaysia and Singapore.
Indian tourist visits to Indonesia increased slightly by 1.8 percent to 87,000 in January and February, compared to the same period last year. It is higher than Japan at 74,000 visits.
Tourism Minister Arief Yahya has previously said India has big potential with its 1.3 billion population, 500 million of whom are considered wealthy.
India tourists are noted for consuming during their holiday, spending between US$900 and $1,200 and staying seven to 10 days on average.
The Tourism Ministry is commited to spending half its budget for foreign marketing on attracting Indian tourists, reported to be Rp.17 billion ($1.2 million).
The ministry said it will hold familiarization visits, sales missions, festivals and exhibitions to lure Indian tourists.
Meanwhile, the ministry’s tourism marketing director for Southern and Central Asia, the Middle East and Africa, R.Sigit Witjaksono, said Indian tourists prefer to visit Bali, the country’s main tourism gate.
“There are things they want to see in Bali, especially for weddings and honeymoons,”he said.
However, the governments will also try to sell destinations such as Sabang in Aceh, which is geographically close to India.
Stokeholders must take note that Indian tourists usually demand Indian cuisine in their destination. Especially vegetarian food, he said.
Commenting on the matter, Association of Indonesian Tour and Travel Agents chairman Asnawi Bahar said the government should increase promotional efforts in India to anticipate the possible decline of tourist numbers from other countries like Malaysia and China.
“We should cover the decrease in the number of Malaysian tourists during Ramadhan. We should also prepare for the possibility of decreasing Chinese tourist numbers because the Chinese government is promoting Hainan as an alternative to the Maldives and it might compete with Bali,” he said.
However, he said there has yet to be any formal talks with foreign agents on connecting Indian tourists from Singapore and Malaysia to Indonesia.
by Farida Susanty for The Jakarta Post on 12th May 2018