Indonesia reaches out to GCC travellers


With Malaysia’s tremendous success in tapping GCC markets, other Asian countries like Indonesia are also hoping to reach out to regional travellers.

The Asian archipelago received 60,000 visitors from Middle Eastern countries last year and hopes to increase that to 100,000 this year, and 150,000 in 2008.
SARA AL HAJI sat down with Thamrin B Bachri, director general, Directorate General of Marketing, at Indonesia’s ministry of culture and tourism, to find out more. Excerpts:

What traveller numbers did you see in 2006 compared to 2005?
Last year saw a decrease in tourism arrivals to a total of 4.8 million as compared to 2005, mainly due to the Bali bombings, earthquakes which resulted in market confidence becoming decreased. However, in 2007 we are targeting six million with our boost acceleration program, which we will achieve by attending travel markets such as ATM, as well as others in China and internationally. India is a new potential market, however currently there are no connecting direct flights between Indonesia. In 2008, Visit Indonesia Year, we hope for seven million arrivals.
We are also launching our ‘seeing is believing’ program, where we work closely with various embassies around the globe and invite potential key travel professionals and media to Indonesia.
In terms of GCC numbers, we see 80 per cent of tourism from Saudi Arabia, and the rest from Qatar, Dubai, Oman and Bahrain.

How are you reaching out to travellers to Australia?
Through sales cooperation with Malaysia and Singapore we offer special packages. As well as the visa integration, as tourists visiting Malaysia can visit Indonesia.

With the Islamic synergies, Malaysia has seen a lot of tourism from the region; is Indonesia taking a similar route?
Yes, border arrivals are 9.6 per cent from Malaysia as well as Singapore. However, Saudis have free visas for Malaysia, and currently Indonesia does not offer this. What we do have is on-arrival visas for GCC citizens. Though the increase from GCC is tremendous as many of our signs in the streets are in Arabic, English and Indonesian, and our food is halal. Also our spas are ideal for the GCC women as they are all women-oriented.

What special summer packages are you offering?
We are promoting our spas and our golf resorts. We have 150 golf resorts and courses, 120 in Jakarta alone, offering first-class service at a low rate. Several hotels are also offering packages where the third night is free.