Cooperation with industry players 'key to reaching tourism target'

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

In order to achieve a targeted seven million foreign tourists under this year's Visit Indonesia Year program, the government should intensify cooperations with players in the tourism industry and grab new potential markets, observers said.

Yanti Sukamdani, head of the Indonesian Hotels and Restaurants Association (PHRI), said the government should not work alone in making Visit Indonesia Year a success, as there were still many obstacles to be tackled.

"A limited budget for instance, is still a problem and it will somehow affect the promotion efforts, especially abroad," she told The Jakarta Post Tuesday.

"But this can be tackled by improving cooperation with players in the tourism sector."

The government has allocated US$15 million to finance the overseas campaign of the visit Indonesia program, under which the country expects to lure at least seven million foreign tourists.

Meity Robot of the Indonesian Tourism Society said in addition to helping finance the campaign, cooperation with actors in the tourism industry would also help the government understand the tourists' preferences.

"The government should know tourism destination preferences so the campaign can effectively reach its set targets," Meity said.

The government said it expects the visit Indonesia program would at the very least attract six million tourists and should raise up to $6.4 billion in foreign exchange revenue.

Association of Tours and Travel head Ben Sukma told the Post the government's optimistic target of seven million was unlikely to be realized because markets had not been well analyzed.

"The government has to work very hard in analyzing the markets through exploring and packaging the uniqueness of programs in every destination, so that it can attract tourists with different characteristics from different regions," Ben said.

For 2007, the government targeted 5.5 million foreign tourists, lower than the original target of 6 million tourists.

From January to November last year, the Central Statistic Agency (BPS) revealed Wednesday 4.11 million foreign tourists have arrived through Indonesia's 15 main entry gates.

BPS said these figures were up by 13.67 percent, from 3.62 million during the same period of 2006.

Although foreign tourist arrivals in 2007 were lower than predicted, Yanti said the government could reach the minimum target this year if it made extra efforts.

Yanti said these efforts should include campaigning to seek new markets.

"Besides countries in Southeast Asia and Australia, the government, for example, should start campaigning in Middle Eastern countries, Russia and India," she said.

"To do this, the government should eagerly cooperate with the embassies and players in tourism in those countries."(ndr)

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