Exclusive Interview with Indonesia Minister of Tourism Arief Yahya.
Indonesia welcomed 14 million visitors in 2017 and has unveiled ambitious targets to increase numbers in 2018 and beyond. In an exclusive ITB Berlin interview with Arief Yahya, Indonesia’s Minister of Tourism, we asked him to tell us about the country’s plan to develop its offering.
2017 was a good year for tourism arrivals to Indonesia. Despite the usual fluctuating visitors number each month, we obtained 93.6% of the target of 15 million visitors. In terms of growth, Indonesia’s performance is three times higher compared to the regional (Southeast Asia) and global growth.
In 2017, we welcomed 14 million visitors, a double-digit increase of 22% from the number last year. While this number is quite significant, we believe the number can be increased even more. This year, we set the target of 17 million visitors to visit our country.
This year we have launched “The Visit Wonderful Indonesia Year 2018”. This year we are promoting 18 top destinations that meet our “3A” principles of accessibility, amenities and attractions.
How important is tourism to the Indonesian economy?
Tourism is the second top leading sector of Indonesia’s economy. In 2016, the tourism sector contributed 4.5% to Indonesian GDP, earned approx. $13.6 billion from international visitor arrivals, and generated 11.8 million of jobs at all skill levels. In 2018, tourism is projected to create jobs for 12.6 million people and contribute 5.3% to Indonesian GPD.
We are expecting significant arrivals from India.
What are your key markets?
In 2017, our usual markets were still most important – China, Europe, Singapore, Malaysia and Australia. This year, besides these top five key markets, we are expecting significant arrivals from India.
Please tell us about some of the tourism infrastructure upgrades.
By improving general transport infrastructure – air, rail, road and sea – the Indonesian government predicts it will assist general economic development, and of course tourism development for which good transportation networks are essential.
Indonesia’s National Medium-Term Development Plan 2015-2019, the third phase of the National Long-Term Development Plan 2005-2025, states that Indonesia requires $360.6 billion worth of infrastructure investment in the 2015-2019 period.
Indonesia’s transport sector is in the midst of a major overhaul
President Joko Widodo, who came to power during the July 2014 presidential elections, has worked to greatly intensify the government’s efforts to improve private sector participation in the country’s transport development agenda.
The government is particularly eager to boost infrastructure development ahead of the 2018 Asian Games. For example, the light rail transit in and around Jakarta is one of the projects that is being sped up in order to be completed before the start of the Asian Games.
Indonesia’s transport sector is in the midst of a major overhaul, with government investment in infrastructure set to hit an all-time high, driven by new projects.
The National Medium-Term Development Plan (2015-19) highlights specific transport upgrades to be carried out before 2020.
The plan envisions the construction of 2,650km of road (including 1,000km of toll roads), upgrades and refurbishment of 46,770km of existing roads, construction of 15 new airports and 24 seaports, upgrades at existing ports and airports, and the establishment of a 3,258km rail network connecting Java, Sumatra, Sulawesi and Kalimantan, including 2,159km of intercity rail and 1,099km of urban rail lines.
Priority projects for 2018 include over 750km of national roads, while ongoing work at the country’s largest airports and within its vast port network also indicates measurable improvements to the national transport network.
Under Indonesia’s National Medium-Term Development Plan 2015-2019, the tourism sector is targeting 12.6 million new jobs. What is driving these ambitious targets?
By reaching over 93% of our target arrivals of 15 million visitors in 2017, Indonesia is confident of obtaining significant job creation continue in the tourism sector. And by aiming for 17 million in 2018, we hope to see even more growth.
Job creation will be based on the wide range of employment opportunities such double digit growth promises for the tourism sector including:
- Entry level and mid-level job creation for the large number of new hotels being built throughout the Indonesian archipelago, not just in the traditional Jakarta and Bali hubs;
- New and existing SME businesses which supply the vast majority of goods and service that the tourism sector needs;
- Extending tourism arrivals to the 10 “New Bali” destinations to encourage growth there – including such rising stars as Lake Toba, Borobudur, Mandalika and Labuan Bajo; and
- Encouraging the growth of village and community-based cultural and eco-tourism by providing loans and training.
What is new from Indonesia at ITB Berlin this year and what do you hope to achieve?
At this year’s ITB Berlin, representatives of 130 Indonesia tourism industries are joining the Pavilion of Indonesia. They are from travel agents/tour operators, hotels/resorts, DMOs, and also the Tourism Office of Regional Governments. The National carrier, Garuda Indonesia, will also join in to promote its direct flight routes from cities in European countries.
The Pavilion will let the visitors get a glimpse of nice, enjoyable, tropical holiday with its distinct decoration of phinisi, the traditional ship from Sulawesi. The materials of the pavilion is also made of the environmental friendly reused materials.
In the Pavilion, visitors can enjoy Indonesia’s traditional spa massage, as well herbal drinks and our world-famous coffee and through these experience the wonderful atmosphere of Wonderful Indonesia with its 17,000 islands.
There will be an augmented reality corner where visitors can take a picture of themselves wearing the traditional wedding clothes of Bali and from other regions of Indonesia.
We are still focusing our program at ITB 2018 to continue to attract more and more international visitors particularly from European countries.
Photo : Arief Yahya – Minister of Tourism of Indonesia