Indonesia, faced with chronic economic ills with plummeting foreign exchange earnings, has turned to tourism to make that extra dollar which will help bolster its foreign exchange coffers. The government has embarked upon a giant programme for the development of newer tourism sites with not only internal resources but also relying upon foreign investments from Saudi Arabia, China, South Korea and Taiwan.

Indonesia with 18,307 islands, is the largest archipelago in the world, according to the Indonesian Naval Hydro-Oceanographic office. Located as it is on a crossroads between two oceans, the Pacific and the Indian Ocean, Indonesia bridges two continents, Asia and Australia. This strategic position has always influenced the cultural, social, political and economic life of the country,

Bali known as the ‘Island of Gods’,  with its close proximity to Australia with a flying time of only 90 minutes from Perth, has been the natural tourism resort for the Australian traveler now for decades. Riding on the tourism turf of Bali, Indonesia has now drawn up a plan for the development of as many as 10 new destinations, of which four are under immediate focus and development as tourist destinations. These destinations are Floress, Tanjung Putting, Torjana and Wakatobi. The government is looking for USD 500 million worth of investments from overseas for the development of tourism infrastructure in these new destinations.

Mr I Made Badra, MM, Head of the Tourism Department Badung Regency, is highly satisfied with the class of tourist arrivals that include the Royal Family of Saudi Arabia, in which he sees a great potential for tourism investments in Bali. With this Mr Badra also sees a substantial growth in the flow of tourists from the Arab world. The growth in Arab tourists, which today stands a mere 5 percent of the total, is slated to Increase to 15 percent in the short to medium term. Mr Badra said that there are in all 13,000 Hotels in Bali, ‘much higher’ in capacity as compared to the flow of tourists.

Mr I Ketut Ardana, SH, President of Bali and Beyond Travel Fair 2017 (BBTF) and Chairman Association of Travel and Tour Agencies (ASITA), said that the major bottleneck for tourism growth  has been the airport facility. Hence the major focus today is on the expansion of the airport facility. As the setting up of the second runway at Bali will take time, it has since been decided to take up the extension of the same runway which will enhance the capacity of aircraft landings and take offs. As of now almost 15,000 tourists arrive each day into Bali.

He said that on an average the tourist spending in Bali is estimated at US$ 1,504. This is expected to go up with a much larger flow of tourists into the country and staying for longer periods.

Mr Ketut said that the entire tourism development plan rides on the Bali high! And hence, the Tourism Fair 20017 focused on ‘Bali and Beyond’.

He said that Bali was now being turned into a Global Centre for Trade and Investments and a special effort is being made by the government to invite global players.

As regards tourism, a special focus is being laid on the integration of the indigenous people into the prime tourism plan enabling the tourists to enjoy the natural habitat, the green paddy fields and the people’s culture.

Indonesia has some worries about the crisis involving Qatar’s diplomatic isolation for its impact on Indonesia’s tourism as Bali has been receiving some 400,000 visitors via Qatar, of which 70% are tourists. A majority of these tourists originate in Europe and are ferried to Bali by Qatar Airways via Doha. According to Indonesian Tourism Development Dy Minister Igde Pitana, a threat looms large whether Qatar Airways will continue to bring tourists to Bali in the coming days. As of now Qatar Airways continues its operations to Bali ferrying tourists from Europe. Although there is a drop in tourist inflows, the impact is not significant as yet.

Pitana was speaking on the sidelines of the Bali and Beyond Trade Fair (BBTF) at Denpasar, Bali, which had a highly successful run.

The Qatar travel embargo has occurred at a time when Indonesia has put in place a new strategy for tourism development, which focuses on sustainable tourism, which aims at the participation of local people in tourism so that everyone gets benefited by the growth in tourism. The new tourism strategy has three components, such as Great Spirit, Grand Strategy and Business Strategy. Pitana said every single tourist is important for Indonesia as the country’s economy is faced with challenges.

Indonesian Government lays the highest priority on tourism as this sector is expected to grow exponentially to become the single largest foreign exchange earner for the country. The snapping of air and land connectivity by Qatar’s neighbours also had an impact on the participation from Middle East in the business to business component of the trade fair. Out of the 264 buyers registered for the B2B event, only 196 attended and the absentees were mostly from the Middle East. Still business worth $420 million (IDR 5.6 trillion) was transacted during the fair.

Sustainable tourism has a strong connection to the caring capacity of a destination. So, the Indonesian Tourism Ministry is promoting 10 new priority destinations beyond Bali. The minister clarified that these destinations are not meant to compete with Bali, but to keep Bali sustainable. “We are trying to make Bali as a hub for Indonesia’s tourism and at the same time developing other destination so the visitors can spread,” said Pitana.

Bali was still at the top of tourism point of interest in the travel expo, although buyers were also showing great interest in destinations beyond Bali, such as Toraja, Flores and Palembang. South Sumatra, a co-host of BBTF 2017, is one of the new destinations being promoted. Other destinations included in the sustainable tourism development plan include Tanjung Puting, Toraja and Wakatobi.

Paelmbang, which will host the 2018 Asian Games, has rich tourism assets including an enticing nature, unique culture, and is known for its delicious cuisine. Paelmbang province is currently witnessing a massive infrastructure upgrade for the Asian Games. The improvements include development of the Musi River Edge Attraction, which is a tour package presenting 29 destinations along the banks of Musi River. The upcoming Asian Games is considered to be a great opportunity for South Sumatra to showcase its tourism potential to the world.

BBTF is a B2B event that aims to advance the tourism industry through business sessions and the direct promotion of best practices in MICE and leisure tourism. Together with exhibitors and buyers from countries around the world, BBTF facilitates pre- scheduled appointments and business sessions for buyers and sellers to negotiate on their long-term leisure and corporate travel needs. Corporations, travel agents, hotel and resort chains, cruise operators, convention planners, venue operators and travel buyers leveraged the two and half days of business to business sessions to enhance their respective brands in the Indonesian and Asia Pacific markets.

The event provided great insights into how Indonesia is systematically promoting its tourism to include the sustainability aspect, which have huge relevance to a country like India, which despite its huge tourism assets, approaches the issue of tourism development in a haphazard manner.

Ketut Ardana, Chairman of Bali & Beyond Travel Fair, confirmed that out of the 264 buyers registered for the B2B event, only 196 attended and the absentees were mostly from the Middle East. Still business worth $420 million (IDR 5.6 trillion) was transacted during the fair.

BBTF 2017 this year hosted 188 sellers from 19 provinces around Indonesia representing the tourism and hospitality industry, from tour operators to chain hotels and resorts as well as provincial tourism offices. Co-hosted by South Sumatra Province, the fourth annual travel fair also organized several pre-tour programs that were sponsored by the Ministry of Tourism to several destinations including the Mount Bromo and Labuan Bajo.

Earlier, addressing a tourism seminar that was held as part of the event, the Indonesian deputy tourism minister explained the recent change in the country’s tourism strategy, which seemed to have created some misunderstandings in the travel trade. Prof Pitana emphasised that the new thrust of the strategy was sustainable tourism in Indonesia and the increasing participation of local people in the tourism trade so that everyone can get the benefit of tourism. The new tourism strategy has three components, such as Great Spirit, Grand Strategy and Business Strategy. He also gave a presentation on the efforts of the Ministry of Tourism in promoting sustainable tourism in Indonesia.

Sustainable tourism has a strong connection to the caring capacity of a destination. The 10 new priority destinations beyond Bali are not meant to compete with Bali, but keeping Bali sustainable. We are trying to make Bali as a hub for the Indonesia’s tourism and at the same time developing other destination so the visitors can spread,” said Pitana.

Bali was still at the top of tourism point of interest in the travel expo, although buyers were also showing great interest in destinations beyond Bali, such as Toraja, Flores and Palembang. South Sumatera, also the co-host of BBTF 2017, designed a unique booth with huge ship construction, which attracted much attention.

Representative of Swiss Contact, Ruedi Nutzi, presented their elaborate Program Wisata II that includes sustainable tourism development for selected destinations in Indonesia, covering Flores, Tanjung Puting, Toraja and Wakatobi. He explained that sustainability can be achieved by strengthening tourism competitiveness, enhancing tourism education and training, and sharing of lessons learnt.

A video presentation titled “Infinity Beauty of South Sumatera” that followed featured the enticing nature, unique culture, and mouth-watering food of the province. Paelmbang, which is part of the province, is now witnessing infrastructure development for the upcoming Asian Games in 2018. The improvement includes development of Musi River Edge Attraction, which is a tour package presenting 29 destinations along the banks of Musi River. The upcoming Asian Games is considered to be a great opportunity for South Sumatera to display it tourism potential to the world.

Minister of Tourism Arief Yahya, who addressed the event’s closing press conerence, congratulated the organising committee for the successful event. “I hope there are more sellers from domestic and overseas in the next BBTF. This event is a golden opportunity for every province in Indonesia to promote and sell the tourism destinations in their area, because not only BBTF is held within the country, it is also cost efficient,” he said. He suggested that BBTF must be made into a market place by inviting more sellers from overseas.

The event also included a pre-tour to Gili Trawangan, Mandalika, Komodo, and Bromo. The John Hardy workshop in Ubud for media delegates highlighted their eco-tourism practices. Director of Heritage and Hospitality for John Hardy, Polly Purser, gave an insight into how Bali has influenced life of so many people including her parents.

“The 60’s to 90’s was an exciting time. Bali has changed so many lives,” she explained how the company became sustainable by maintaining the connection with people, nature and culture alive.

The seminar concluded with I Made Badra, representative of Badung Regency with an introduction to several captivating tourism destinations located in Badung regency beyond Kuta.

BBTF is a B2B event that aims to advance the tourism industry through business sessions and the direct promotion of best practices in MICE and Leisure management. Together with exhibitors and buyers from numerous countries around the world, BBTF facilitates Pre- Scheduled Appointments (PSA) and business sessions for buyers and sellers to negotiate on their long-term leisure and corporate travel needs. Corporations, travel agents, hotel & resort chains, cruise operators, convention planners, venue operators and travel buyers leveraged the two and half days of business to business sessions to enhance their respective brands in the Indonesian and Asia Pacific markets.

For the fourth Bali & Beyond Travel Fair, the committee collaborated with MichiDe International, the luxury travel expert based in Dubai. By collaborating with MichiDe, the committee aimed to bring in key international buyers and high-profile media from the Middle East region as part of the plans to further expand the success of the travel fair.

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