Indonesian tourism problems

Here is an article in the Jakarta Post discussing Indonesia’s tourism problems.

Indonesia’s tourism woes

Imagine the irony! Ideally speaking, of all countries in Southeast Asia, Indonesia is supposed to be a perfect haven for tourists.

It is the world’s largest archipelagic country in the world. We have countless beautiful scenery to show off. Our natural assets such as valleys, hills, beaches etc. are too numerous to mention. This is not yet including the exotic world beneath our vast waters.

We have cultures so diverse that each offers completely different windows to another world unknown to foreigners. Our variety of food is also simply too good to miss. Furthermore, compared to other destinations, the cost of vacations here is inexpensive.

So why are we lagging behind? Instead of seeing Indonesia as an endless experience for both natural and cultural discoveries, the world only knows Bali and almost nothing beyond. Indonesia is not even in the top 10 of favorite tourist destinations in the region. Something is not right. We are certainly not selling our tourism aggressive enough.

The best and fastest way to sell Indonesia is through mass media advertisements and such efforts must be government-sponsored, considering that improved tourism will also benefit the public as a whole. The Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia tourism boards have been flooding the world with their enticing advertisements through TV, magazines and billboards. I don’t see why we cannot duplicate their tactics.

But again there is nothing like personal advertising. The surest way to get tourists is by personal invitations. Friends always visit one another. Each of us is a tourist ambassador for our country. The point is, please abolish that narrow-minded worse-than-colonial rent-seeking fiscal policy for outbound travelers. Let us be free and make connections with the outside world. If each of us can introduce ourselves to five people in foreign lands, imagine the potential impact!

There is no tourism without first generating the world’s interest and awareness. What better way to do just that than through personal relationships?

And also do not forget to upgrade our dire transportation infrastructure. Tourism is a business of selling dreams. Make sure that those dreams are easily accessible.

Tangerang, Banten

Glad someone noticed. Geographically and culturally Indonesia is the most amazing country in Asia. Most people will find something here they like, an experience to remember. Why aren’t the tourists (customers) flocking to Indonesia in the numbers they should be? Here are a few reasons.

1. There is no coordinated marketing plan to promote Indonesia as a tourist destination.
2. Some elements in the Indonesian government have a split personality when it comes to foreigners. They want them to come and spend money, then again they don’t want them at all.
3. Most of the press Indonesia gets is negative.
4. Most of the tourism related press is about Bali, not the rest of the country.
5. Indonesia only gives a tourist 30 days on arrival and charges them $25. Most other countries in the region give 60 days for free.
6. Corruption, both at the airport and inside the country deters visitors. No one wants to visit a place where the immigration officers are asking for money, police coming to their hotel (happened to me in Java) because they didn’t ‘register’ themselves (not needed in a hotel).
7. Not enough focus on delivering a product (Indonesia) to the customer (the tourist). Take a look at Las Vegas, you arrive and immediately there are goods and services within easy reach. They want your experience to be hassle free, with maximum time spent enjoying yourself and spending money.
8. Pollution. Got to deal with the garbage. How many times have we got to mention this!
9. National parks. These have to be more than just ‘private hunting grounds’ for staff.
10. New parks / trails. With so much bio-diversity, there is a need to protect it. One of the best ways is to create proper National Parks, with trails, lodges and staff who work to maintain the park and serve the customer. One such trail could be the ‘Bali Ridge Trail’ following a path, specially created from Bedugal to Gilimanuk. You charge $100 a person to hike it, offer guides but don’t require them, build simple ‘bale‘ structures along the route for the guests, with the occasional ‘official shop’ and warung. Keep the local business out of it, or it will be ruined.
11. Allow foreigners Freehold title for certain tourist activities. If a guy wants to help the country by investing $1 million of his own cash and 10 years of his life, he should be able to own his own place.

These are a few reasons why Indonesia does not top the list of SE Asian tourist destinations, plus a couple if idea on how to fix things.