Domestic air links in Surabaya pave the way for more tourism

THE growing number of air connections in Surabaya, originally intended to improve travel for locals, is expected to open up new destinations such as Banyuwangi, Jember and Malang, and bring in more visitors to East Java.

East Java Government Culture and Tourism Service director, Jarianto, who goes by a single name, said Garuda Indonesia’s launch of Surabaya-Jember and Surabaya-Banyuwangi routes in the last couple of years had fostered development in the surrounding areas.

“Susi Air just opened pioneering routes between Jember and Sumenep (on Madura Island) on May 2 and it also plans to fly Sumenep-Kagean (also on the island) later on.

“While this is initially targeted to prove better access to the local people, it is expected to stimulate tourism in the future.”

At the same time, Banyuwangi’s Blimbingsari Airport is expanding its runway from 1,900m to 2,250m to enable it to accommodate bigger aircraft with a budget of Rp150 billion (US$11.4 million) already set aside for it.

Surabaya is the capital and international gateway of East Java province, which received 460,000 international arrivals in 2014, a 54 per cent increase over 2013.

It also saw 45 million domestic movements last year, making it one of the biggest local travel destinations in the country.

East Java governor, Soekarwo, who also goes by one name, said: “Tourism has played an important role in the development of East Java, contributing Rp101 trillion to regional income in 2014, an increase of 15.6 per cent over the previous year.”

Addressing an audience at the opening of Majapahit Travel Fair (MTF) 2015 and Indonesia Corporate Meeting and Incentive Travel Mart (ICMITM) 2015 in Surabaya last week, Soekwaro said the regional government was fostering the development of tourism at the regency level and is improving infrastructure to attract more arrivals in the future.

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