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Beyond sun, sand and Bali: Indonesia touts 5 new ‘super priority’ destinations as tourism trends shift

These five destinations are: Lake Toba in North Sumatra, Borobudur in Central Java, Mandalika in Lombok, Labuan Bajo in East Nusa Tenggara, and Likupang in North Sulawesi.

Beyond sun, sand and Bali: Indonesia touts 5 new ‘super priority’ destinations as tourism trends shift

Tourists gather to watch Mount Agung at Amed beach in Karangasem on Indonesia's resort island of Bali on Nov 30, 2017. (File photo: AFP/JUNI KRISWANTO)

SINGAPORE: Indonesia wants tourism to move beyond sun, sand, sea, and its famed hotspot of Bali, and focus on five new “super priority” destinations instead, said Mr Sandiaga Uno, Indonesia’s Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy.

This is due in part to shifting tourism trends and tourist behaviour that are “beyond Bali”, Mr Uno told CNA’s Asia Now on Tuesday (Nov 29) on the sidelines of the World Travel and Tourism Council’s annual global summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

While many foreign tourists visit Indonesia because of Bali, they are increasingly opting to stay on and see other destinations and experience other activities, he said.

“So we’re not only focusing on sun, sea and sand – the three S’s that we’ve been so famous for,” said Mr Uno. “We are adding serenity, sustainability and spirituality.”

“(We have) five super priority destinations that are ready to receive foreign tourists, each with its own specific experiences and memories,” he added.

These five destinations are: Lake Toba in North Sumatra, Borobudur in Central Java, Mandalika in Lombok, Labuan Bajo in East Nusa Tenggara, and Likupang in North Sulawesi.

Lake Toba is the world’s largest volcanic crater lake; Borobudur is a Buddhist temple on the Unesco heritage list; Labuan Bajo is home to Komodo Dragons; and Mandalika and Likupang are famed for their pristine beaches.

Apart from the five, Mr Uno said that Indonesia has five more destinations in the works: Belitung, Tanjung Lesung, Morotai, Wakatobi and Raja Ampat.


While foreign arrivals are gradually increasing, the recovery is slow, with numbers today at only about 25 per cent that of pre-pandemic levels, said Mr Uno.

Indonesia hopes to attract up to about 4 million visitors this year. This is in stark contrast to 2019, when it welcomed 16.1 million foreign tourists, according to local news outlet Jakarta Post.

The G20 summit held in Bali two weeks ago gave the country a much-needed boost in tourism revenue.

Bali’s economy grew by 8.1 per cent in the July to September period, compared with the same period last year, boosted by events leading up to the summit, the minister said.

“We are seeing quite a substantial recovery and this is very good news because during the pandemic we lost more than 1 million jobs. So this year, it is great to see the economic activities back and we are in the process and on track to create 1.1 million good quality jobs this year,” he said.

Indonesia aims to create 4.4 million jobs in its tourism sector by 2024.


Domestic tourism, in particular, performed overwhelmingly well this year, with numbers ahead of pre-pandemic levels, Mr Uno said.

Although domestic tourists spend less compared with those from overseas, Mr Uno said that domestic tourism is the backbone of the industry and can be counted on during global slowdowns.

He added that the country hopes to reach about 800 million domestic tourist movements this year and has a target of 1.4 billion for next year.

“Domestic tourists … their repetitions and quantity over the years have been very remarkable and this is something that we are banking on next year to make sure that we could anticipate and mitigate the impact of global recession as well as inflation,” he said.


Despite a slow inflow of foreign travellers, Mr Uno noted that tourist behaviour has changed considerably.

The length of stay has increased significantly – from between two and three days in the past to about seven to 14 days on average now, he said.

Tourist spending has also jumped – from the pre-pandemic range of about US$1,000 to US$1,100 per person to almost triple that amount today, Mr Uno added.

This has helped the country surpass its target revenue of US$1.7 billion for tourism this year. Mr Uno said Indonesia has already seen US$4.3 billion in tourist revenue in the first nine months of the year.


Mr Uno said that the country is focusing on sustainability as part of its tourism recovery post-pandemic, with a push to resolve food loss and food waste, as well as offset the sector’s carbon footprint.

Hotels, restaurants, and other players in the tourism sector will be incentivised to strengthen the supply chain and source locally, he said.

The tourism industry is responsible for about 8 per cent of the world’s carbon emissions. Mr Uno said that Indonesia has committed to cut that figure by half by 2035, and reach net-zero by 2045.

Some solutions are to plant more mangrove trees, as well as to encourage green tourism, he said.

“Every destination needs to have an offering where we communicate to the market that we are a sustainable destination and we are ready to help you offset your carbon footprint. These are the types of new tourism that are more localised, personalised, customised, smaller in size,” he said.

Despite a looming global recession, the minister said that the outlook for tourism remains positive.

“We are seeing robust numbers and next year even with the inflation and uncertainties in terms of global recession, we are confident and optimistic that we will double the numbers that we are reporting this year,” Mr Uno said.

Source: CNA/dn(ac)


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