The debate as to whether Bali is considered the tourism capital of Indonesia has continued this week as the Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy, Sandiaga Uno, addressed the country about his tourism targets and vision for the sector’s economic recovery.
Indonesia’s Minister of Home Affairs, Tito Karnavian, has made a statement of support for Bali being officially recognized as Indonesia’s Capital of Tourism.
Minister Uno responded to say that he agrees that Bali holds enormous potential for tourism, in addition to the extensive tourism market that the island already has. Minster Uno went on to explain how he wants to see the development of tourism spread evenly throughout Indonesia.
Spreading development resources across Indonesia’s picturesque islands is economically sound. The promotion of other areas of Indonesia helps increase both domestic and international tourism.
Speaking at the weekly press briefing, Minister Uno said “We don’t want development to be concentrated in just one destination because Indonesia has so many destinations that need to be developed’. He explained how the success of tourism in Indonesia is directly correlated to each destination’s tourism potential and creative economy. He confirmed that his department is focusing tourism development efforts across the country from Sabang in Aceh to Merauke in Papua.
The debate around which destination is considered the tourism capital of Indonesia is not superficial. The tourism capital of Indonesia is the focal point of major international marketing campaigns and in light of the pandemic, every tourism hotspot in the country is eager to see visitors return and revenue recuperated.
The Indonesian Ministry for Tourism is currently focusing tourism development efforts on five ‘super priority’ destinations, which are Lake Toba in North Sumatra, Borobudur in Central Java, Mandalika in Lombok, Labuan Bajo of the Flores Islands, and Likupang in North Sulawesi. The success of these super-priority destinations will not be felt overnight and pose little threat to Bali’s tourism sector in the short term.
While domestic travelers may pivot towards novel and newly invested destinations quickly due to ease of access and affordability, it would take time for international holidaymakers who make up such a significant percentage of Bali’s visitors, to be lured to these more off-path destinations en mass.
Super-priority destinations already attract sufficient international visitors to make them viable investment though they are not yet set up for mass tourism. Holidaymakers to Bali are attracted by the beaches and amazing hotels, but it is the practical elements like infrastructure, the prevalence of English, and transportation, that guarantee holidaymakers an enjoyable stay.
Whether Bali is officially named the tourism capital of Indonesia matters little in the short to medium term. Thanks to exceptionally good marketing by the Indonesian tourism board and businesses across the island, supported by influencers and travel journalists, Bali will remain at the top of the must-visit destinations for potential travelers for years to come.
Minister Uno may be looking to develop other tourist destinations across Indonesia but he is far from turning his back on Bali. Bali remains the greatest asset to the Indonesian tourist economy. During his briefing Minister Uno shared his tourism targets for Bali for the remainder of 2022.
He has set a target of 1.5 million international arrivals to Bali and 7 million domestic visitors. He went on to explain how he wants to promote Bali as a destination for the ‘silver economy’ meaning the over-60s market. Minister Uno wants to promote the Island of the Gods as the perfect destination for the over-60s who want to live abroad in comfort and safety for a large part of each year.
As tourism promotional budgets from the central government have been slashed by 80% in light of pandemic-induced cutbacks, the sub-sectors of Indonesia’s tourism industry are battling it out to get the funding they need to recover and grow. Minster Uno has called on the sector to use ‘entrepreneurial spirit’ and keep working together.
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