Destinations in Indonesia are seeing greater interest from emerging tourism markets, according to buyers and sellers at the sixth Bali and Beyond Travel Fair (BBTF) in Bali last week.
RD Tours, Bali, for example, has started receiving FIT and incentive groups from Nepal, a market it started to penetrate last year.
Bambang Sugiono, director of marketing and overseas promotions of RD Tours, Bali said: “It all started when we participated at a sales mission organised by the Indonesian Embassy (in Bangladesh) in Kathmandu. We were surprised to see about 100 Nepal travel companies representatives attend the event. While they already knew about Bali from the Internet, the sales mission was really an eye opener to them and the result started to come in (this year).”
Flights from Kathmandu to Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok have made it quite convenient for travellers to reach Bali, especially with the frequency betweens these hubs, according to Bambang.
“Travellers (many of whom are families) stay in upscale properties. They visit to Nusa Lembongan and Uluwatu due to their interest in water sports activities and culture. Watching the kecak dance performance is a must.”
Meanwhile, Sol Beach House Bali Benoa and Kuta, traditionally reliant on Australian and European markets, are now seeing growth from the Baltic Countries, South and North Africa.
Putu Yeni Navitarini, cluster director of sales and marketing at Sol House Bali, said: “Through our partnership with Go Vacation Indonesia, we have a back-to-back group series from Lithuania coming between September 2019 and May 2020, with each group staying for 13 nights.
“Africa is a growing regional feeder to Bali. South Africa is not a new market for us, we have been partnering with Panorama DMC to cater for this market, but we now see this growing significantly.”
Compered to the South African market, North Africa is relatively newer to Bali and Sol House Bali especially, according to Yeni. She said: “Our Sol House Kuta has received 18 group series from Morocco and six groups from Algeria. It is amazing.”
Youssef Mufarrej, sales and marketing manager of Clic Holidays Travels & Events, Morocco attributed the growth trends to the expanding middle class in the country and improved accessibility.
He said: “Bali and Indonesia used to be a luxury destination for the Moroccans and only the (more affluent) travellers could afford to come here, due to the long flights.”
But the destination is becoming more accessible to mainstream segments with services operated by Qatar Airways, Emirates, and more recently Turkish Airlines, which just launched its direct service from Istanbul to Bali.
“The middle class has grown in the last five years, and now more people can afford to travel this far. Bali has become one of the top destinations for middle class travellers,” he said.
Bali, however, is not the only Indonesian destination travellers are drawn to.
North Sulawesi in the last couple of years has seen the growth of the China market thanks to charter flight operations.
While the market to Indonesia dropped since last year, including to North Sulawesi, Cocotinos, a Boutique Dive Resorts & Spa, Manado continued to see FITs arriving.
General manager Martinus Wawanda said that while the resort is not a direct recipient of charter groups, it has benefitted from the greater awareness of the destination generated by their arrivals.
“The market we continue to get are the FITs and families, who are not necessarily divers. They do island hopping, and visit Minahasa Highland or mangrove tours.”
Manado is also a new destination on the radar of Asian tour operators, including those from Thailand and Singapore, who have already been to Lombok, where Coconitos has a property.
Amid the increased interest, the North Sulawesi regional government has stepped up promotional efforts.
Tomohon City, for example, took part in BTF 2019 to promote the Tomohon International Flower Festival (TIFF), an annual event taking place from August 8 to 11.
Jimmy Feidie Eman, mayor of Tomohon City, shared: “TIFF, which was launched in 2008, has managed to attract national and international participants, boosting tourist arrivals.”
International arrivals to Tomohon numbered 90,907 last year, up from 89,736 in 2017. “We are expecting the number will increase to 92,260 this year,” the mayor said.
The sixth BBTF 2019 was held at Bali Nusa Dua Convention Centre from June 25-29, 2019. The show attracted 230 sellers from 19 provinces in Indonesia and two regional sellers (Singapore and Timor Leste), as well as 303 buyers from 46 countries.