Interview with Nia Niscaya, Director of International Tourism Promotion, Indonesia Ministry of Tourism

Nia Niscaya, Director of International Tourism Promotion, Indonesia Ministry of Tourism believes that strong branding has been an important factor in recent years with respect to Indonesia’s tourism success. “A major step has been of course to offer free visa-on-arrival to 169 countries, a unique policy around the world,” she explains.

But the exposure of the brand “Wonderful Indonesia” contributed also to the growth. “We are very pleased about the branding of the destination,” she went on to say. “We finally put a comprehensive budget to have worldwide campaigns on television internationally. Such as spots played on CNN or National Geographic. And it bears fruits because the more powerful the brand, the more acknowledgement we receive from a vast public around the world.”

According to Mrs Niscaya, 50% today of the Ministry’s total budget goes to brand awareness.

Indonesia has then come a long way since the beginning of the 21st century regarding tourism development. Fifteen years ago, the country just passed for the first time the 5-million international travellers’ mark. Numbers however stagnated most of the rest of the decade. It is only since 2008 that Indonesian inbound tourism has grown consequently. Last year it reached between 9.8 and 10.0 million foreign arrivals (depending how calculation is done). This year would definitely mark a new record. “We are likely to pass the 11-million mark or to be very close to it”, adds Niscaya.

Indonesia remains particularly attractive for European markets. From January to July, European arrivals were up by 19.4M, bringing a total of 585,884 visitors. The UK dominates with a total 181,000 travellers, up by 21.5% over the same period of 2014. France comes second at 135,000 travellers (+20.7%) followed by Germany with 118,000 travellers (+20.3%). Generally all important markets show double-digit growth rates. “China is likely to turn into our largest inbound market from this year, taking over Singapore. Only for the first seven months of this year, total arrivals from China PRC are up by 24.1%,” adds Nia Niscaya. In total, from January to July, foreign arrivals grew by over 7.6%.

Priority is now given to the promotion of new destinations, beyond Bali. The island still accounts for 40% of all arrivals.

“We selected ten new tourism spots which have now absolute priority for development,” explains Niscaya. “They are called  the ‘10 New Bali beyond Bali’ to generate some echo under both travellers and tourism investors.” Among them are Lake Toba in North Sumatra and Tanjung Kelitung in Bangka Belitung province; Borobudur temple (Central Java) and Mount Bromo (East Java); On Sulawesi Island, Wakatobi National Park has been selected but also Komodo Island in the province of East Nusa Tenggara.