Indonesia maps out niche tourism strategy

THE INDONESIAN Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy has earmarked seven specific areas in which it plans to develop its special interest tourism portfolio from 2012-2014.

These focus areas include cultural and historic tourism; nature and ecotourism; sports and recreation; cruises; culinary and shopping; spa and wellness; and events.

Speaking at a workshop in Puncak, West Java, last weekend, the ministry’s director general of tourism destination development, Firmansyah Rahim, said: “Within these (areas), we have narrowed down and placed development focus on specific locations and sub-themes to work on in the next two years.”

For example, underwater photography, a sub-category of sports and recreation tourism, will highlight destinations such as Raja Ampat, Wakatobi, Derawan, Lembeh, Nabire, Morota and North Halmahera. For shopping, featured destinations will include Jakarta, Bandung, Jogjakarta, Surabaya, Bali, Medan and Batam, while spa and wellness havens will comprise Bali, Jogjakarta, Batam, Bintan, Jakarta, Surabaya and Lombok.

Bondan Winarno, a culinary expert and Jalansutra cultural leader, said: “Culinary tourism has been neglected (by the Indonesian authorities) when it’s actually the most ready product for marketing and promotion.”

He urged the Indonesian government to promote the opening of Indonesian specialty restaurants overseas, similar to what Thailand did a few years ago.

Yos Dive Indonesia owner, Yos Amerta, said: “Why don’t we establish Manado as a hub to make it more convenient for North Asian travellers to visit Indonesia, so that north Sulawesi’s dive spots can also get a share of these tourists before they go on to Bali?”

“We keep targeting the longhaul sector, but overlook the markets in front of us. China is a potential market (for marine tourism), with Chinese groups in Bali spending US$350 per day, but (Indonesia) has not tapped this segment seriously,” he added.

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