The central government has placed Bali at the fore of a new tourism campaign to promote the country overseas, opening more representative offices around the world, including in London, and coordinating marketing efforts to lure more foreign tourists.
By William J. Furney
The Bali Times
SEMINYAK ~ The central government has placed Bali at the fore of a new tourism campaign to promote the country overseas, opening more representative offices around the world, including in London, and coordinating marketing efforts to lure more foreign tourists.
In addition, the annual budget for promoting Indonesian tourism is to be raised to US$10 million for 2007, from $6 million this year, according to Vice President Yusuf Kalla.
The move comes amid aggressive marketing campaigns launched in recent years by neighbors Singapore, Malaysia and others, all of which aim to dramatically increase the number of foreign visitors to their shores.
Singapore alone has seen its tourist figures rise to nine million this year, as the tiny city-state this week reported a more-than-healthy mean hotel occupancy rate of 85 percent.
Latest government data show that from January to October this year, 1.1 million people visited Bali, up some 38 percent on the corresponding period a year earlier.
Most tourists came from Australia, Britain, Japan and South Korea, the data reveal.
Indonesia was keen to cast off perceptions abroad that it is riddled with natural disasters such as tsunamis and earthquakes and showcase a natural beauty and cultures unrivaled in Southeast Asia, the vice president said during a trip here.
He said there was often confusion abroad about what happens in Indonesia, either due to inaccurate reporting by journalists or a lack of understanding about the sprawling nation of more than 17,000 islands in other countries.
A campaign was being devised under the motto â€œBeautiful Bali Indonesiaâ€ in order to compete with catchier ones like Malaysiaâ€™s Truly Asia promotion, said Kalla.
The Culture and Tourism Ministry had instructed all tourism operators to use the slogan in order to jointly promote the country.
â€œLetâ€™s start using â€œBeautiful Bali Indonesiaâ€ as our motto in tourism,â€ Kalla said.
â€œWe need to strengthen Bali as an icon for Indonesia, like the Taj Mahal for India or the Petronas Towers for Malaysia,â€ he said, adding that up to now there had been a lack of direction in marketing the countryâ€™s tourism potential abroad, as well as a shortfall of funds.
Now the government would start producing promotional films of major tourist attractions around the county, said Kalla, starting with Bali.
â€œBali is the icon of Beautiful Bali Indonesia,â€ he said.
Meanwhile, in addition to tourism offices in Beijing, Sydney and Tokyo, in 2007 the government would open more offices in capitals around the world, including in London.
The offices would be beneficial in not only promoting Indonesia, but would also help counter negative perceptions of the country, according to the vice president.
Meanwhile, in Bali, the government of Badung, the regency where most of the islandâ€™s tourism industry is centered, is working towards building up infrastructure, under a five-year plan called Bali #1 Destination 2011.
To attract higher levels of foreign tourists, the program involves a tripling in size of Ngurah Rai International Airport to handle expected greater passenger numbers, a cleanup of areas affected by problems such as sewage â€“ and dealing with the root cause of the problem by cracking down on hundreds of illegally operated villas â€“ as well as introducing more green areas in tourist spots.
The head of the Bali Tourism Office, Gede Nurjaya, says low hotel occupancy rates â€“ around 42 percent – are a result of the illegal villas.
But overall, he said, the situation in Bali was currently â€œfavorableâ€ and that promotional campaigns carried out in key foreign markets along with continued improvements in security on the island would ensure Bali remained a tourism success story.