Indonesia strengthens tourism ties with Malaysia and Thailand

Indonesia president Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has launched the Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Growth Triangle (IMT-GT) Visit Years 2023-2025 to strengthen tourism cooperation among the three countries.

Witnessed by the dignitaries of the IMT-GT member countries, the launch of the campaign took place during the ASEAN Summit in Labuan Bajo, East Nusa Tenggara on May 11.

Indonesia president Joko Widodo launched the Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Growth Triangle during the ASEAN Summit on May 11 (Photo: MoTCE)

The campaign is expected to increase connectivity and growth in the tourism sector for the three countries.

In his speech, Jokowi shared that the IMT-GT area managed to reach a value of US$618 billion during the global pandemic in 2021. He said: “Going forward, the IMT-GT area must be able to further encourage the acceleration of inclusive and sustainable economic growth to face the various challenges ahead.”

Sandiaga Uno, Indonesia minister of tourism and creative economy, added: “(The campaign) is expected to involve 10 provinces in Sumatra, as well as Southern Thailand and Malaysia. One of the main issues is to downstream the industries, including the tourism industry, as well as strengthening connectivity with a target to increase tourist arrivals.”

The campaign aims to attract 60 million tourists and achieve foreign exchange earnings of US$75 billion within the period, according to Sandiaga.

In Indonesia, the campaign will start with Bangka Belitung and South Sumatra, followed by the rest of the provinces in Sumatra.

Commenting on the campaign, Pauline Suharno, president of the Association of Travel Agents in Indonesia (ASTINDO) told TTG Asia: “For IMT-GT collaboration to work, there should be commitment from each country to actually take part. So, it’s not just a pledge, paperwork or FGD output, but concrete steps (need to be taken) to make it happen.”

As part of the campaign, the minister said the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy (MoTCE) would hold a world entrepreneur summit event in Padang, West Sumatra.

In order for the campaign to be a success, Pauline opined that member countries should create a co-brand, as well as set short- and long-term joint promotions and budgets.

Christine Kowandi, tour manager of Horas Tours in Medan stressed that there was a need to intensify promotions by having more sales missions to encourage regional traffic.

Quizzed on the types of products that would be a good fit for the campaign, Pauline, who is also president of the Federation of ASEAN Travel Agents, noted: “Travel companies have collaborated long before these growth triangles were formed.”

She elaborated that agents “are used to selling to the three countries”, which includes travelling from Indonesia and transiting in Singapore, before heading to Malaysia and Thailand.

In addition, there are cruises from Singapore-Port Klang and Penang-Phuket available as well.

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