Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Indonesia has turned its focus on India as another potential tourism market, after identifying China and Russia as its main tourism promotion targets, among others.
The country is trying to expand its tourism markets to the Asian countries, apart from its traditional European, Australian and American markets.
India is one of the 90 countries to which the Indonesian government extended the visa-free facility this year in its efforts to double the number of foreign tourists visiting the country, from the current 10 million every year to 20 million by 2019.
As part of its efforts, the Indonesian government has set a target to attract at least 300 thousand Indian tourists next year.
Indonesia considers India a potential tourism market as most Indian tourists are high-class travelers, Taufik Nur Hidayat, an assistant deputy for the Asian and Pacific Market Development of the Ministry of Tourism, said.
Indian tourists generally prefer hotels with five star facilities, so a specific strategy has to be put in place to attract more tourists to Indonesia.
"We must put in place what they need, such as adventure tour packages as well as a comfortable and safe environment, Indian food, and a pleasant night atmosphere," he said.
The tourism ministry recently facilitated various Indonesian tourism businessmen to participate in the South Asia Travel & Tourism Expo (Satte) held in New Delhi recently.
From December 2 to 4, 2015, the ministry held the Indonesia Wonderful Promotion Sale Mission in Mumbai, India.
The event was part of the cultural diplomacy to strengthen emotional ties between the two countries, emphasizing that Indonesia has a close relationship with India in terms of history and culture.
The Dutch colonialists earlier referred to Indonesia as "India" and "Nusa," which means islands in Indian territories.
In the ninth century, some Hindu kingdoms flourished in Java. Many Hindu relics are preserved by the people and the Indonesian government.
The spread of Islam in Indonesia also involved traders from Gujarat, India, who developed trade in various port cities in Indonesia.
In modern times, Indonesia, along with India, initiated the Asian-African Conference (AAC) in 1955 which resulted in the Ten Principles of Bandung.
At the promotional event in Mumbai, Monica Mahendra, the Indian tourism envoy in Bali, affirmed that Bali offers several adventure tourism activities, such as rafting, snorkeling, diving, paragliding, jet skiing and banana boat riding, as well as mountain climbing and tracking.
However, the fact that there is no direct flight between India and Indonesia has been seen as an obstacle in trying to attract more Indian tourists.
Indonesian Consul General in Mumbai Saut Siringoringo expressed his belief that direct flights from Mumbai or New Delhi to Denpasar, Bali Island, will significantly boost Indian tourist arrivals in Indonesia.
So far, passengers taking flights from India to Indonesia and vice versa transit through Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, or Singapore, resulting in more travel time and inconvenience.
"There is a huge interest in visiting Indonesia, particularly Bali. But they always ask when direct flights to Indonesia will become operational," Siringoringo noted.
Visa-free facility to Indian tourists would not be of significant help if there are no direct flights, he added.
He said the Indonesian flag carrier Garuda Indonesia is ready to serve direct flights in the near future, given the fact that some 230 thousand Indian tourists visit Indonesia annually.
"If the plan is realized, the target of attracting 300 thousand Indian tourists to Indonesia in 2016 can be certainly achieved." he added.
He cited an example of some Indian elites who were keen to hold wedding parties in Bali and invite hundreds of guests from India. However, their plans could not be realized as there were no direct flights, he remarked.
Indian Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari, when paying a visit to Indonesia, spent some days on the Bali Island.
The vice president and his entourage visited the Tanah Lot temple in Tabanan district, Bali Province, to enjoy the beautiful scenery around the temple perched on a rock in the Beraban beach.
District Head of Tabanan Wayan Sugiada, while welcoming the Indian vice president, expressed his hope that the visit would lead to an increased number of Indian tourists visiting Tanah Lot which is one of the iconic tourism sites in Tabanan.
Sugiada pointed out that the visit would convince the international community about the fact that Tanah Lot was safe and peaceful.
The vice president said he had heard about the beautiful natural scenery at Tanah Lot.
"Now, I have seen that beauty of natural scenery here," the vice president said at Tanah Lot.
He also expressed appreciation for the welcome accorded by the local government and the managers of Tanah Lot.
"The Balinese people deserve a thumbs up for their hospitality," the vice president said, adding, "If possible, I would ask the Bollywood film industry to consider Tanah Lot as a shooting location."(*)
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