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40% of Indian Tourist Visits Bali for Weddings and honeymoons: Sigit Witjaksono, Director of Tourism Marketing for Asia Pacific, Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy, Indonesia

India has always been focussed market for Indonesia since 2016. Before the pandemic, visitors from India continued to increase every year. In 2019, total visitors from India reached 657.300 and then reached 104.765 visitors in the first three months of 2020 before Covid-19 outbreaks. Sigit Witjaksono, Director of Tourism Marketing for Asia Pacific, Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy of the Republic of Indonesia, talks on the preparation to woo international visitors, new normal and importance and strategy for India market.

With uncertainty still prevailing, how do you see 2022 for outbound travel? Do you foresee a significant demand from India market? Any new trend in terms of international travel?

Indonesia, especially Bali, has opened international flights starting October 14, 2021 for 19 countries including India. Until now, we continue to make preparations to welcome international tourists, of course, by keeping an eye on the situation where a new variant of Omicron is currently appearing.

In response to the opening of international flights, we have collaborated with Indonesian representatives abroad to carry out an awareness campaign since October 2021 to inform them that the border is open for Indian tourists. In addition, we have also contacted our partners in India to start cooperation. We received information that Indian tourists are very eager to be able to travel to Indonesia soon. Therefore, through our partners, we want to ensure that the arrival of Indian tourists is very much awaited. In that regard, we are also working on connectivity of direct and indirect flights from India to Indonesia destinations.  

The new trend in terms of international travel, the important thing is that we have to make tourists feel comfortable and safe. The new normal condition with the implementation of CHSE (cleanliness, health, safety & environmental sustainability) protocol is a must/ mandatory for future trip activities. We would like to ensure the safety and health of the people travelling as our utmost objectives. In this regard, we have done and implemented our efforts and strategy with adaptation, innovation and collaboration to achieve that goal.

Post Pandemic, do you foresee India still featuring amongst your top priority markets?

India has always been focussed market for Indonesia since 2016. Before the pandemic, visitors from India continued to increase every year. In 2019, total visitors from India reached 657.300 and then reached 104.765 visitors in the first three months of 2020 before Covid-19 outbreaks.

With this good trend, it is certain that Indian tourists will be our attention. Moreover, they really like various destinations in Indonesia, especially Bali, which is indeed their main destination if they go to Indonesia. 

The Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy/Head of the Tourism and Creative Economy Agency, Sandiaga Salahuddin Uno had also held a meeting with the Indian Ambassador to Indonesia, Manoj Kumar Bharti. During the meeting, the two of them discussed various future program plans, especially opportunities to increase cooperation in the tourism sector and the post-pandemic creative economy. The plan to reopen Bali with direct flights from India was also discussed. This confirms that India is and will still be a very important market for Indonesia.

How are you tweaking your marketing strategy for 2022?

In the opening of the international border, Bali became a pilot project for bringing international visitors to Indonesia and was then be followed up with Batam and Bintan. Safe routes, safe zones, transportation, referral hospitals, mitigation provisions already prepared. We have coordinated everything from time to time together with the relevant Ministries/Institutions (Ministry of Health, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Immigration, National Covid-19 Task Force, etc.), provincial/district governments and related industries. 

We need to emphasize that since last year 2020, the government & people of the Republic of Indonesia in many regions/capital cities of all the provinces have been making some efforts to ensure the readiness of destinations to welcome visitors with the implementation of CHSE. The ongoing efforts in various regions in Indonesia ensure that hotels, restaurants, tourist attractions, souvenir shops, etc. can create a sense of security and comfort so that Indian tourists will feel “worry-free”.

Any new updates in terms of attractions or tourism infrastructure upgrade in the destination?

Since the last year 2020, the government & people of the Republic of Indonesia in many regions/capital cities of all the provinces have been making some efforts to ensure the readiness of destinations to welcome visitors with the implementation of CHSE (cleanliness, health, safety & environmental sustainability).

The purpose of CHSE is to make sure end-to-end travel start from the arrival at the airport, hotel, accommodation, tourist attraction, and so on and up to returning back to the airport. We would like to show the world that Indonesia is ready to welcome back international tourists and keep improving the destination experiences.

Until November 2021, as many as 11,986 tourism business have been certified. This effort will also be continued this coming second semester of 2021 in many other cities all around the country, covering hotels, restaurants, tourist attractions, souvenir shops, etc. so that it would, in turn, build and strengthen confidence for the tourists to visit Indonesia when the condition is possible later on.

Which segments of tourism will be your focus once tourism restarts? Which are the new destinations that you will be promoting?

Bali, Bintan, and Batam will be a pilot project of preparing to bring international visitors to Indonesia. We will continue to promote Bali because Bali remains the main destination for Indian visitors. As many as 40% of Indian visitors come to Bali for weddings and honeymoons, this is what we will continue to work on as well as other potential segments for adventure, leisure and so on.

By when do you foresee MICE and corporate travel market to bounce back?

For the MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, Exhibitions) Segment, the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy has made a guidebook/guideline on health protocols (CHSE) for the implementation of MICE activities. The guidebook received appreciation at the international event Bali Democracy Forum in December 2020. When travel resumes, hopefully, international MICE events and activities in Indonesia can be carried out and run safely according to health protocols. 

Indonesia's chairmanship/presidency in the G20 has started from December 1, 2021, until November 2022, then continues with the Chair of Indonesia in ASEAN in 2023. This is an opportunity for Indonesia to show the readiness of Bali and various other destinations, especially the 5 Super Priority Destinations, which will become the venue for the various series of G20 and ASEAN meetings.

 Are you planning any trade engagement activities in India market?

We are pleased to participate at South Asia's Travel and Tourism Exchange (SATTE) as "Partner Country" on 16 s/d 18 February 2021 to showcase Indonesian destinations and new experiences at Indonesian Pavilion at SATTE 2022.

Anything you would like to add?

In our participation in SATTE 2022, We would like to show the world that Indonesia is ready to welcome back international tourists and keep improving the destination experiences with #IndonesiaCare. And we are sure that Indian tourists are looking forward to visiting the land of the Gods, Bali, which is their favourite destination. Be prepared, because #itstimeforBali.

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