Ambassador Rina P Soemarno says Jakarta promoting '10 New Balis'

Indonesia witnesses 350pc rise in visitor arrivals from Bangladesh

_A Monitor Report16 Apr, 2019 | 421 Views|-+
Dhaka : Indonesia is witnessing an increasing number of tourists from Bangladesh, but we want more. In the last three to four years, we received an increase of 350 per cent tourists going to Indonesia from this country.

We think it is because of the visa-free facilities and hopefully with promotions just like this, this year, we hope more tourists will go to Indonesia from Bangladesh.

Indonesian Ambassador Rina P Soemarno said this while talking to The Bangladesh Monitor on the sidelines of NOVOAIR Dhaka Travel Mart-2019.

Rina P Soemarno said, tourism is a very important sector in Indonesia. It is one of the priority sectors. It is now the second largest contributor to Indonesian revenue, the first being palm oil.

Being the priority sector, the Indonesian government is expecting to receive 20 million tourists in 2019. If the target is accomplished then tourism sector will emerge as the biggest contributor to the Indonesian revenue. In 2018 we received 15 million tourists from all over the world, she said.

Ambassador Soemarno said Indonesia was a large country spanning more than 7,000 kilometres and having three time zones. We have the second largest beach in the world. We have so many destinations.

Bali is the most popular destination among Bangladeshis. But Indonesia is much more than Bali, she said, adding Bali is one among the 17,000 islands of Indonesia.

People look for beaches. We have many kinds of beaches. If one likes surfing, there are beaches for surfing. We also have underground sea water parks.

Ambassador Soemarno said, besides diverse types of beaches, Indonesia has mountains, too. In fact, Indonesia is one of the most mountainous countries with 300 active volcanoes.

Indonesia has a volcano that emits blue flame. There are two such volcanoes - the other one being in Iceland. I think it is easier to go to Indonesia, than to Iceland (to see blue-flame volcanoes), she quipped.

Rina P Soemarno said, going to Indonesia for Bangladeshis is easy, because if you have visa-free facility. You can go to Indonesia without obtaining a prior visa. You just have to bring your passport.

As long as your passport has a validity of six months, you have with you a proof of return ticket and hotel booking - you can go Indonesia - we have so many attractions.

If you want culture, we have many places for culture. Culturally we have a lot in common. Indonesia is the largest Muslim country in the world, Christianity being the second religion in Indonesia. There are followers of Hinduism, Buddhism and other religions, too.

If you are looking for cuisine, we are different from you, but there are similarities also. We use many spices as well as coconut milk. Contrary to poplar perception, Nasi Goreng and Satay are from Indonesia, she said.

Bali is still the most popular destination for tourists from all over the world - 40 per cent go to Bali and 30 per cent to Jakarta, the capital city, and 20 per cent to Batam or Bintan.

These two islands are very close to Singapore - about 45 minutes away by ferry. So we are hoping, Bangladeshis who go on holiday to Singapore or Malaysia can catch a ferry and visit the two exquisite islands for a few days.

'10 New Balis'

The government of Indonesia is now promoting "10 New Balis." This means, though Indonesia has a large number of destinations comparable to Bali, Jakarta is prioritising on these destinations. These are destinations one may not find in any other country.

The new destinations which will be promoted on a priority basis are: Lake Toba, Tanjung Lesung, Kepulauan Seribu, Tanjung Kelayang Beach, Bangka Belitung, Borobudur Temple, Mount Bromo, Mandalika, Labuan Bajo, Wakatobi and Morotai Island.

Lombok island has beautiful beaches. There is Labuan Bajo that has Komodo Dragon, the largest giant lizard in the world. They only live in this small Flores island near Lombok.

Mt Kalimutu has one of the most amazing water bodies in the world. There are three crater lakes, near each other, the water of which keep changing. It is unbelievable.

There is also a Savanna-like place in Indonesia. The country has animals and vegetations that are really distinctive. Lake Toba, the largest lake in Indonesia, is in the northern Sumatra. It is the nearest point from Bangladesh, had the world been flat, she said.

Ambassador Soemarno said, Borobudur is the largest temple in the world. The UNESCO Heritage site is well kept and is surrounded by a national park.

Mt Brohmo is another beautiful place. You go to the mountain by horses. It is very surreal. You have to wake up very early in the morning and go there and see the sunrise. In the silence, you can see the majestic mountain coming into view.

Though Indonesia is in the tropics, it is very cold here. You have to put on very thick jackets.

As to what Bangladesh can do to attract more tourists, the Indonesian Ambassador said, once Indonesia was like Bangladesh. We did not pay attention to tourism then. At that time the government did not think tourism was a big factor in the economy.

Only in 2014, the present government put very high priority on tourism. That means we have designated places for tourism, we are building infrastructure there, including more airports.

Indonesia has 260 domestic airports and 40 international airports. We have designated some airports for low cost carriers (LCCs). LCCs are important for tourism, she said.

Indonesia has 50,000 hotel rooms now, but we still need 15,000 more. So we need investment and we are approaching investors.

Visa free facility

Ambassador Soemarno said visa free facility is the most important instrument to boost tourism. Giving an example of its immense impact, she said, Indonesia granted the facility to Bangladeshi tourists in January 2016. In 2015, only 13,000 Bangladeshis visited Indonesia. It jumped to 57,000 last year - we witnessed an incredible growth of 350 per cent from Bangladesh alone.

Wishing reciprocity, Rina P Soemarno said it was difficult for Indonesians to come here, even for business. You have a very strict visa policy, the Indonesian ambassador said.

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