Bogor, W Java (ANTARA News) - The Indonesian Government has set a target of 17 million foreign tourist arrivals this year, and Cambodia is not one of the top 10 contributors to the archipelagos tourism industry.
According to the Ministry of Tourism, the 10 main contributors of Indonesias foreign tourist arrivals are Australia, Japan, China, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, India, the United States of America, Taiwan, and European countries.
Although Cambodia has not yet been able to be in the 10 top list of countries, it cannot be ignored in Indonesias tourism promotion by considering its sustainable economic development that enables to instigate the growth of young middle-class people.
Thus, looking at this context, it is understandable that Indonesia would participate in this years Cambodian Travel Mart, despite the fact that not many foreign countries join this event, and Cambodias contribution to Indonesias foreign tourist arrivals is so small compared to that of Japan, for instance.
If Japan contributed 491,893 visitors to Indonesia in 2015 alone, Cambodias total number of tourists visiting the country did not exceed six thousand people last year. But, compared to that of 2016, the total number of Cambodian travelers coming to the archipelago saw a slight increase.
According to the Indonesian Tourism Ministrys Deputy Assistant for Marketing Development Region I, Masruroh, the total number of Cambodians traveling to Indonesia increased from five thousand people in 2016 to six thousand people in 2017, while there were 49 thousand Indonesians visiting Cambodia in 2017.
Instead, the number of Indonesians traveling to the country increase around 10 percent compared to that of 2016, which was recorded at 48 thousand people, she noted, adding that the unavailability of direct flights connecting Cambodia and Indonesias important cities is a serious challenge for the two countries tourism industry.
Due to its small contribution, the Cambodian holidaymakers are not yet given a special attention though the people of Indonesia and Cambodia share many similarities in cultural roots and legacies. In terms of temples, for instance, Indonesia even has lots of bigger temples than those in Cambodia, she added.
In addition to the cultural and religious similarities, the Cambodian tourists also love shopping, such as buying traditional goods, including souvenirs. In meeting this need, Indonesia has lots of shopping malls that could be offered to them.
"Another potential, but challenging, market is selfie tourism, because many Cambodian millennial travelers love selfies," she remarked.
By considering this potential, if Indonesia works harder, it would be able to lure more Cambodian tourists coming to the archipelago because it has a lot more tourist destinations other than temples that can be offered to Cambodians, she explained.
In dealing with this problem, the Indonesian Government offers incentives to airline companies, which are willing to serve the direct flights to lure more foreign tourist arrivals in the two ASEAN member countries.
"We keep on attempting to open the direct flights by collaborating with airline companies," Masruroh noted on the sidelines of the Cambodian Travel Mart taking place in Phnom Penh on Friday evening.
For the airline companies wanting to provide the direct flights, the government would even offer them cash incentives and joint promotions. The direct flights can be in the forms of regular services and charter flights.
Indonesia has also learnt about a possibility of making Singapore be a hub, because the city-state had received lots of Cambodian tourists."
What Indonesia can do to attract tourists is to offer several affordable tourist destinations, including the islands of Batam and Bintan, to the Cambodian tourists while staying in Singapore.
Actually, as Masruroh revealed, a small number of Cambodian travelers had visited Bintan and even Jakarta from Singapore thanks to the two countries direct flights and ferry services.
Making Singapore be the hub for helping increase the foreign tourist arrivals in Indonesia, including those of Cambodia, is logic. In its tourism promotion strategy, this neighboring country remains prioritized.
The significance of Singapores position in the map of Indonesias tourism sector has even been recognized by Tourism Minister Arief Yahya mainly due to the city-states status as a hub that bridges the East and West, the North and South, and the Southeast and Northeast.
"Indonesia itself has numerous competitive and comparative advantages for attracting Singaporeans and foreign nationals visiting the country, including its short distance, short flight time, the availability of many entrance gates (including the ones in Batam - Bintan Islands), and its cultural and natural richness."
"Therefore, a pro-active and sustainable promotion in this targeted market is so indispensable," Yahya elaborated in a press statement.
Compared to Cambodia, Singapore is obviously a giant with more than 1.5 million tourists visiting Indonesia thanks to the two countries geographical proximity, and the fact that many of Singaporean citizens love Indonesias cultural and natural richness.
Apart from the importance of tourism industry from the economic perspective, this sector also contributes to the collective efforts of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to strengthen the spirit of ASEAN as one community.
Therefore, the Indonesian Ministry of Tourism has been suggested to encourage promotion of the Wonderful Indonesia brand in the Southeast Asian region though countries such as Cambodia still have insignificant contribution to the archipelagos foreign tourist arrivals.
Source: ANTARA News