The decision of Garuda Indonesia to end up its European flights to Jakarta and replace them by direct flights to Medan and Denpasar forces the marketing department of Indonesia Ministry of Tourism to rethink its strategy by pushing travellers to go to Indonesia via Singapore, as highlighted by Nya Niscaya, Deputy Minister, Tourism Marketing, Ministry of Tourism of Indonesia during a recent conversation in Paris.
Indonesia is receiving over two million European travellers, which represents close to 13% of all international arrivals to the country. Europe remains an important overseas market for Indonesia but the country is facing difficulties to raise the total number of tourists coming from Europe. “Air connectivity is a real issue as we lack direct flights. After Garuda pulled out from most of its European destinations a couple of years ago, it has been difficult to fill up the void left by the airline,” explains Nya Niscaya, responsible for overseas market within the Ministry of Tourism.
In the last four years, accessibility has turned into a priority, especially with the development of ports, airports, roads and railways. “The government’s selection of ten priority tourist destinations, the “ten new Balis”, also facilitated the development of hotels and human resources. We are now moving into a new development stage with five top priority destinations being now selected from these ten ‘New Bali’,” adds Mrs. Niscaya.
The five destinations are Lake Toba (North Sumatra), Borobudur temple and surroundings (Central Java), Labuan Bajo (Flores), Mandalika (Lombok) and Likupang (North Sulawesi). All there infrastructure must be ready by the end of 2020, according to the Deputy Minister.
The latest changes by Garuda Indonesia which introduces this winter non-stop flights from both Amsterdam and London to Medan with further continuation to Bali, is complicating even more the promotion of the archipelago on overseas markets. Passengers landing in Medan with Garuda Indonesia have only limited connections to other destinations in Indonesia. The Indonesian carrier offers only flights to a couple of destinations in Sumatra and to Jakarta and Bali. They are for example no direct flights from Garuda from Medan to Surabaya or to Yogyakarta, two important cities and tourist destinations.
“We then recommend to tourists from Europe to connect via Singapore which offers flights to a dozen Indonesian cities. We also introduced special packages out of Singapore for tourists who desire to visit the neighbouring islands of Batam or Bintan in the Riau archipelago,” tells Mrs. Niscaya. Singapore is again being (discreetly) acknowledged by officials as the main entrance gateway to Indonesia for overseas travellers.
Packages to Batam and Bintan have been specially created to appeal to Singaporeans or neighbouring Malaysians. But they are available to any nationality…