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Indonesia lays out the red carpet for Middle Eastern visitors

Middle Eastern tourism is growing in such importance that at this year’s Arabian Travel Market (ATM) in Dubai, Indonesia’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism will be using the occasion of ATM to announce the appointment of a Dubai-based tourism marketing agent to promote tourism to Indonesia from the Gulf and Middle East.

“With tourism representing the second largest source of foreign capital in Indonesia, and amounting to nine per cent of gross domestic product, the Middle East has been pinpointed as a key growth area for increased inbound travellers,” says the Ministry’s Director General of Marketing, Dr. Sapta Nirwandar.

The Ministry and the newly appointed marketing agent will be sending out a message of great opportunities for all Middle Eastern outbound travel agents and their clients: “Indonesia has it all. It is truly the destination that is the Ultimate in Diversity!”

“2008 has been designated Visit Indonesia Year, designed to promote the very many and varied attractions throughout this beautiful archipelago, after the country experienced a number of both natural and man-made crises in previous years,” says Dr. Nirwandar. “As a result of this campaign, and other increased promotional activities overseas, the Ministry is aiming to reach its target of attracting seven million international visitors to Indonesia by the end of 2008.

“Indonesia has a wide variety of attractions to offer its Middle Eastern friends. Whether you are seeking  a magical beach holiday in Bali, or you wish to visit the wonders of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites at Borobudur Temple or Prambanan Temple in Java; or if it’s fantastic shopping at great prices in Jakarta and Bandung that you want, or to play golf with no waiting and at attractive prices on international class courses throughout the country; or perhaps you like to relax in marvellous spas with both traditional and international health and beauty treatments,” he enthused.

“All of these are in a safe, family-oriented environment. And as the world’s most populous Muslim country, Indonesia also offers an environment that is very hospitable and welcoming to those of the Islamic faith.”

To attract private sector investment in tourism development, the Indonesian government has adopted a fiscal incentives policy for development projects such as hotels, tourist resorts, recreational parks, and convention facilities. Already, the government has successfully targeted investors from the Middle East in particular, as the number of UAE tourists visiting Indonesia has significantly increased with an annual growth rate of between 10 and 13 per cent.

A series of special events is being put together for 2008 featuring a celebration of music, culture, arts, festivals, and sports competitions to be held nationwide and throughout the year. It is anticipated that seasoned visitors will come to Indonesia during this year as they will have the chance of a lifetime to witness spectacular events and enjoy an extraordinary experience.

Dr. Sapta also says that cruise tourism is another growing segment of the Indonesian tourism market.

“We are working hard with our partners in the private sector – both in Indonesia and overseas – to promote a number of special interest tourism attractions. We see strong growth potential in cruise tourism for Indonesia. With its great natural beauty, wide cultural diversity, and an archipelago of 17,500 islands set in a tropical sea, Indonesia is truly a cruising paradise. We are also strategically located between Singapore and Australia, and Singapore is now the major Southeast Asian hub for the booming cruise industry in the Asia Pacific.

“Therefore we are actively working to encourage cruise tourism to grow in Indonesia by improving our port and harbour infrastructure – notably at Benoa in Bali – and to make Bali a key turnaround cruise port destination for SE Asian cruise itineraries.

“In summary,” says Dr Sapta, “we are doing our best in challenging times to help grow Indonesian tourism, to bring the maximum benefits to our people, and to promote Indonesia as a wonderful and hospitable destination for visitors truly offering the “Ultimate in Diversity”.