'Branded bureau' to promote Indonesia

DUBAI — In an attempt to increase its presence in the region, Indonesia may set up a satellite tourism promotion office in the Middle East, an official from the Indonesian Ministry of Culture and Tourism (MCT) said.

By Criselda E. Diala

Published: Thu 3 May 2007, 8:33 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 4:19 AM

However, due to the high expenditure involved in setting up and maintaining an overseas office, MCT Director-General Thamrin Bachri told Khaleej Times that the ministry might consider a "branded bureau", which could act as its authorised representative in the region.

Surprisingly, Indonesia, which has the largest Muslim population in the world, has not been a popular holiday destination for people from the Arab world, said Bachri.

"The Middle East is an important market for us but where as the volume of tourist arrivals is concerned, we haven't been receiving a significant number of travellers from this part of the world," he said.

Bachri said Indonesia's tourism growth has been fuelled mostly by tourists from neighbouring Southeast Asian countries like Malaysia and Singapore.

"We need to promote more in the Middle East, mainly because Indonesia does offer many tourism features that would attract Muslim travellers. Our customs and traditions are similar to the practices here," he said.

The tourism official mentioned that being a country with more than 7,000 islands, Indonesia has a wealth of choices and experience for any tourist.

Bachri also pointed out that Indonesia's tourism promotion has not been dampened by the natural disasters. Last year, the island of Java had witnessed earthquakes almost every month.

"Natural calamities, like earthquakes, are something that we have learned to live with, considering the fact that our country is located within the rim of the Pacific Ocean, which is a seismic belt. We're coping with it," Bachri commented.

This year, Indonesia is targeting six million tourist arrivals. In 2006, around 60,000 tourists from Middle East countries visited the archipelago and the figure is expected to go up to 100,000 towards the end of 2007.

In order to achieve this goal, the tourism authorities have increased their marketing activities in the region and begun providing visa-on-arrival services to visitors from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman.

Flight connectivity between the UAE and Indonesia also is excellent with Emirates, Etihad, Saudia and Qatar Airways operating direct service to Jakarta.

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