International interest in Komodo rises

Padar Island in Komodo National Park

Domestic and international travel buyers, including those hailing from as far as South America, are showing a growing interest in Komodo.

The second edition of the Komodo Travel Mart (KTM), which took place in the East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) capital of Kupang last month, attracted 166 buyers from 11 countries, a significant growth compared to the first one held last year, which was attended by 72 buyers.

Padar Island in Komodo islands, Flores, Indonesia

Abed Frans, chairman of Association of the Indonesian Tours and Travel Agencies (ASITA) NTT Chapter, said: “Besides the NTT Tourism Office, we have received support (in putting up the show) from Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Angkasa Pura Airport Authority and Citilink.”

This was a huge improvement compared to last year’s event, where ASITA worked alone on the show, according to Abed.

While the Komodo National Park is popular internationally thanks to the aggressive promotions by the government and the development of infrastructure in Labuan Bajo, the gateway to Komodo, Abed said “we have many destinations beyond that and the Komodo Dragon to show the world”.

Indeed, Freddy Barus, general manager of Graha Buana Tour and Travel, a buyer from Jakarta, had visited KTM 2017 to see how the local tour operators in NTT design itineraries beyond Komodo Island, especially MICE-related ones.

South American travel players are also taking a closer look at NTT. For the first time 14 tour operators from six countries in the region (Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Chile, Columbia and Venezuela) took part in the event, which was fully supported by the foreign affairs ministry.

Julang Pujianto director, America II, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said of 40 million South American outbound travellers each year, only 47,000 visited Indonesia in 2016.

“This is less than one per cent – if we can reach five per cent we will have two million travellers coming to Indonesia each year,” said Julang.

He said the ministry is working with tour operators to get travellers from South America to Indonesia, such as through a fam trip.

With an interest in Indonesian destinations beyond Bali, Nur Arratia, director of Chilean Exotik Time Viajes, was hoping to start bringing Chilean travellers to NTT next year.

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