Lombok's Mandalika Project in West Nusa Tenggara Province - Photo: National Development Planning Ministry

JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories) – The government is targeting Indonesia as a leading Asian and World tourism destination by 2045 with a total of 73.6 million foreign tourist visits, from the 18 million people set for 2019, said National Development Planning Minister Bambang Brodjonegoro today (08/19).

“Indonesia’s diversity which includes more than 17 islands, 300 ethnic groups, 700 languages, world heritage sites, as well as the third-largest biodiversity is a great potential for tourism development,” Brodjonegoro said at the Integrated Tourism Masterplan Meeting in Jakarta.

He continued in 2020 the government will focus on developing leading destinations with a target of 21.6 million foreign tourists, in 2025 increasing competitiveness with a target of 31.8 million people, in 2030 increasing diversity of tourism with a target of 42.8 million people, in 2035 increasing the integration of tourism with a target of 57.5 people.

Furthermore, in 2040 the strengthening as Asia’s flagship destination with a target of 65.1 million people, and finally in 2045 the strengthening as the world’s flagship destination with a total of 73.6 million people visiting.

“In 2045 when we celebrated 100 years of Indonesian independence, we were already in the high-income country category. Because currently, our status is still middle income. Then in 2045 where the population increased to 320 million people, life expectancy will improve in 75 years, the majority of Indonesia’s population will also live in cities, we are targeting our economy to no longer rely on natural resources, but all sectors that have added value including tourism,” he said.

Besides the manufacturing and agriculture sectors, he went on, the tourism sector also directly contributed to foreign exchange reserves so as to strengthen the economy externally. Then tourism must become a government’s concern so that it can become the backbone of the Indonesian economy in 2045.

Tourism can also contribute to inclusive growth and more balanced national development by bringing investment to remote areas with tourist attractions. Tourism Minister Arief Yahya is optimistic that by the end of 2019 the number of tourist visits could reach the target of 18 million, higher than the Bank Indonesia projection which mentions 17.6 million visits.

The minister said that the tourism sector is one of the main foreign exchange-earners. In 2018, Indonesia’s foreign exchange income from the tourism sector reached US$17 billion, rose $2 billion from $15 billion a year earlier. And in 2019, the government targets the tourism sector to contribute $20 billion in foreign exchange.

So the government continues to accelerate the development of four priority tourist destinations to reach the revenue target. President Joko Widodo had previously established 4 super-priority tourism destinations, namely Lake Toba in North Sumatra, Borobudur Temple in Central Java, Lombok-Mandalika area in West Nusa Tenggara, and Komodo Island – Labuan Bajo in East Nusa Tenggara.

The government plans to disburse funds up to Rp2.4 trillion ($171.43 million) in 2020 to build infrastructure in an effort to encourage the tourism industry in the Lake Toba National Tourism Strategic Area in North Sumatra to become an international-scale tourist destination. This year the government has budgeted Rp821.3 billion.

Maritime coordinating minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan said the infrastructure includes the construction of the Samosir ring road, Tano Ponggol bridge, revitalization of Lake Toba, imbuing, water treatment, sanitation, and structuring of the Lake Toba area.

“The government have a development program that will be implemented in Lake Toba from 2019 until 2020. We have created a Lake Toba strategic area development program. The program is an integrated program from all sectors that have surveyed,” he said.

The strategic move is a response to the commitment of Widodo who has decided to prepare a management plan for Lake Toba as a classy tourist destination.

During a visit to Lake Toba months ago, Widodo said there were 28 tourist destinations in the area around Lake Toba, which had a historical, cultural, natural and psychological side to the community. Therefore, the government needs large investments, including funds from the state budget.

According to the President, the project to develop the tourism area around Lake Toba will be carried out starting in 2019 and is expected to be completed in stages starting in 2020.

For supporting facilities, Widodo suggested that everything is integrated, including products, human resources, packaging, brand, and distinctive differentiation with Bali and Mandalika. In addition, the President also said the need for an advanced and modern crossing port architecture in Lake Toba and could inspire young people to attract tourists.

Tourism is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world, and Asia is one of the hottest destinations, the Asian Development Bank latest report showed. Since 2011, global international arrivals have been growing at an average annual rate of 4.8 percent, adding about 55 million new visitors each year, to reach 1.4 billion in 2018.

Furthermore, international tourism receipts expanded by 4.3 percent per year since 2011, adding an average of $54 billion annually, to reach $1.34 trillion in 2018. Domestic tourism to has made impressive strides, with global receipts hitting $4.1 trillion in 2018, far more than international tourism.

In Asia too tourism is taking off. Of the 1.4 billion visitors who traveled abroad in 2018, 343 million went to Asia. And, of the $1.34 trillion of international tourism receipts in 2018, $390 billion was spent in Asia, the report shows.

Asia thus accounts for 25 percent of international visitors and 29 percent of international tourist spending. International arrivals rose by 65 percent in Asia between 2010 and 2018, compared to 47 percent globally.

US$1=Rp14.200

Written by Lexy Nantu, Email: lexy@theinsiderstories.com