Sports tourism is enjoying a strong revival in Bintan, Indonesia, with the return of Bintan Ladies Golf Retreat in July and Bintan Triathlon by TriFactor 2023 on October 21 and 22.
Abdul Wahab, chief operating officer of Bintan Resorts Cakrawala, the organisation that manages tourism development and promotion for the destination, said sports tourism has been an important segment for Bintan to boost arrivals and contribute to the local economy.
In 2019, sports tourism contributed 20 per cent of Bintan Resorts Cakrawala’s 500 billion rupiah (US$32,000) tourism tax payable to the Bintan Regency. The amount was nearly half of the regency’s direct revenue of 1.2 trillion rupiah, according to Wahab.
The sports events are organised with the aim of boosting arrivals to Bintan, so they welcome mass participation instead of specifically professional athletes.
However, these events could eventually be elevated to professional championships, said Wahab.
Bintan Resorts Cakrawala has been developing sports tourism since 2004, as the organisation saw the value these events could bring to the destination, such as visitor numbers and global media exposure.
“Events like Bintan Triathlon, for example, attract some 1,500 participants from 50 countries and they come with their family. The marathon attracts up to 6,000 participants. Along with spouses and children, that number easily triples, said Wahab.
In terms of infrastructure, Wahab said Bintan Resorts is a gated zone that makes events logistics easy to manage.
“We can organise a marathon without having to block streets, unlike in other cities,” he added.
According to Wahab, Bintan Resorts is still in “honeymoon mode” in terms of tourism recovery. He expects to achieve between 500,000 and 600,000 visitors this year.
Looking ahead, he has set a goal of one million visitors for 2024, and will achieve that through two new events – Moon Run night marathon, which is set for 2Q2024 with a target of 400 to 500 runners, and Bintan Regatta Triangle (Singapore-Bintan-Johor Bahru) at the end of the year.
He is confident that sports tourism potential for Bintan Resorts will continue to strengthen on the back of the new Bintan International Airport, which is now under construction, as well as the addition of three new hotels with 1,000 to 3,000 keys by 2025.
“In anticipation of growth, we are also training more staff and improving their capability to ensure the delivery of professional events services,” he said.