Indonesia is more attractive than ever among European outbound markets. An increased budget for promotion, brand awareness campaigns and new destinations are among the key elements to success…

The Indonesian Government has given priority to the development of tourism, realising that it is not only a way to spread wealth and provide jobs to more people around the archipelago but also that tourism is a way to boost infrastructure within the country.

Despite its wealth of historical and cultural attractions and its superb landscapes, Indonesia is still not among the top incoming countries within the Association of South East Asia Nations (ASEAN). With some 10 million international tourists in 2015 (11 million likely this year), the country is still tracking behind Thailand (30 million international visitors), Malaysia (26 million) and Singapore (16 million).


Nia Niscaya, Director of International Tourism Promotion – Indonesia

However, things are changing rapidly, as explains by Nia Niscaya, Director of International Tourism Promotion: “A major step has been to offer free visa-on-arrival to 169 countries, a unique policy around the world”, she explains. “Another important decision was also to strengthen the brand. The more powerful the brand, the more acknowledgement from a vast public around the world”, she adds.

“Wonderful Indonesia”, the Ministry of Tourism’s brand has been shown now for a couple of years around the world at trade shows but also in TV marketing campaigns. “It really pays off. We now spend 50% of our total marketing budget for brand awareness, the rest going to advertising and our presence at trade shows”, tells Mrs. Niscaya.

This year, almost all inbound markets to Indonesia show growth. From January to July, the world’s largest archipelago welcomed 6.32 million international travellers, up by 7.6% over the previous year. And after a difficult year in Europe in 2015 – due to the negative impact of Islamist attacks which turned away Western travellers of visiting Muslim countries, Europe is now bouncing back. And bouncing back sharply. It is in fact turning into one of Indonesia’s fastest growing inbound market in 2016.

European arrivals reached already from January to July a total of 585,884, up by 19.4% over the same period of 2014. Most important markets show double-digit growth rates.

The UK remains Europe’s largest market with a total of 181,000 travellers up by 21.5%; France confirms its position as Indonesia’s second largest European inbound market with 135,000 arrivals, up by 20.7% over the previous year. It is followed by Germany with 118,000 arrivals (up by 20.3%) and the Netherlands (up by 11.5%). “We witness a come-back of Russian travellers after a few years decline. Russian numbers are up by almost 15% since the start of the year”, says Ms Niscaya.

However, there are signs of a slowdown from many Asian top markets. Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Taiwan continue to show decline (all down between 1.5% and 2.5%) while Japan arrivals stagnate. Asian numbers are however up due to the jump in tourist arrivals from China PRC and India (respectively up by 24.1% and 30.3%). China will become the largest source market for Indonesia this year.

Strategically, with more returning visitors, Indonesia tries now to lure travellers beyond Bali Island, which receives 40% of all international travellers to the archipelago. The current government has recently identified ten new tourism spots which have now absolute priority for development “We call them the ‘10 New Bali beyond Bali’ with the government emphasising regions all across the country”, indicates Nia Niscaya.

In Sumatra, the government identified Lake Toba in North Sumatra and Tanjung Kelitung in Bangka Belitung province; on Java Island, Tanjung Lesung (Banten), the 1,000 Islands (Seribu Islands in Jakarta); Borobudur temple (Central Java) and Mount Bromo (East Java); On Sulawesi Island, Wakatobi National Park has been selected while for East Indonesia, the Government selected Mandalika (Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara), Komodo Island (East Nusa Tenggara) and Morotai (North Maluku).

indonesia-figs-2016“All these destinations have been selected for their pristine landscapes and strong cultural backgrounds. However, they often proper infrastructure to welcome tourists. And this is where the government is stepping up to improve their access and provide international standard facilities and services”, says Mrs. Niscaya.

Recently, Silangit Airport near to Lake Toba and Bangka Belitung Airport were upgraded for larger aircraft. A major issue remains connectivity to the destinations. While Lombok, Yogyakarta or East Java have a fair infrastructure-including airports connected by budget carriers, East Indonesia still requests more investments although new international hotels start to move to that part of the country.