While infrastructural pressures have spurred the Indonesian government’s drive to create “new Bali’s”, demand trends from Europe – such as the maturing traveller profile – are also pointing towards lesser-known destinations.
Last month, DMC Khiri Indonesia opened an office in Sulawesi, covering destinations from Kalimantan through Sulawesi, to the Moluccas and Papua.
General manager of Khiri Indonesia, Herman Hoven, said: “While Bali and Java remain popular… for repeat European visitors to Indonesia, there is an increased interest in the outer lying destinations, such as Flores, Sulawesi and Kalimantan.
“We’ve offered Sulawesi since the start of our operations in Indonesia through a local agency. However now that we have opened our own office there, we’ll be able to deliver better consistency in product quality and service at a more competitive price. Response time will improve too, and we’ll (be able to be more) flexible and creative in our own itineraries.”
In Germany, Sulawesi and destinations other than Bali are already on the radar of some travel agents. Hans-Jürgen Schwall, managing director of First Reisebüro, said customers’ first contact with the destination is almost always with Bali. But as these longhaul travellers typically stay 14 to 20 days in the country, itineraries often also include Java, Sumatra, Sulawesi and Timor.
Of the emerging destinations serviced by Khiri’s new office, Hoven said the Wakatobi islands in South-east Sulawesi is one that “will rapidly (gain) popularity over the next few years”.
Since opening the new office, Tangkoko and Bunaken have shown to be most in-demand, being “easily reachable from Manado in the North”.
While these areas are opening up new selling opportunities, Hoven said product knowledge of some local tour operators could still be lacking.
Schwall remarked that having a DMC operating in budding destinations could fill information and service gaps, a boon for overseas agencies that offer tailor-made Indonesia itineraries.