Indonesia: a lot more than meets the eye

The Komodo Dragon, in Komodo Islands, Indonesia

Nature and culture form the two key pillars of Indonesia’s touristic offers. Indonesia is known for its 17,504 islands inhabited by 223 million people representing 491 ethnicities speaking 726 different languages. Indonesia’s tourism identity is built on its diverse destinations, beautiful nature, lush beaches, and varied cultures that manage to preserve its traditional values alongside modernity.

Indonesia counted 14 million international visitor arrivals from January to December last year. Expected visitor arrival in 2018 is 17 million. “Out of the 14 million that visited Indonesia last year, about 222,362 visits were from the Middle East alone,” Nour Aridi, country manager, Visit Indonesia tourism officer in the Middle East, Ministry of Indonesian Tourism, tells TTN. “In fact, the Middle East is counted within the top 10 most important source markets for Indonesia.”

Great China, Europe, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, Japan, India, Republic of Korea and USA are the other nine source markets for the island nation.

Earlier this year, in partnership with Al Rais Travel, Visit Indonesia hosted a dinner for key members of the travel agent community, and shared some travel ideas and news update.

To attract more visits from the region, Indonesia is investing in home stays in the following areas: Danau Toba, Tanjung Kelayang, Tanjung Lesung, Jakarta Old Town, Borobudu, Bromo Tengger Semeru, Mandalika, Labuan Bajo, Wakatobi and Morotai.

Apart from home stays, the Wonderful Indonesia team shared a presentation of updates from all above destinations.

Lake Toba in North Sumatra, the largest volcanic lake in the world, was highlighted as one of ten destinations to visit outside of Bali. It has an island the size of Singapore; traditional burial sites; and it’s very abundant in durian, if you dare to try the somewhat smelly fruit. A two-hour flight, three Times a week, connects Jakarta with Silangit Airport.

The next destination on the presentation was Tanjung Kelayang, off South East Sumatra, boasting granite beaches and turquoise water, great for families. It is a 1.5-hour flight from Jakarta.

Tanjung Lesung, Banten, in the western part of Java, is a hidden gem of soft white sandy beaches, and clear, calm blue waters, that produce delicious seafood. Jakarta to Tanjung Lesung, is a three to four hours’ drive and will be worth your while before the development of a watersport attraction, marina, botanical garden, and dive centre put it on the tourist map. Also in the works: hotels, resorts, villas, bungalows and Cikadu Tourism Village.

A perfect getaway after a busy business trip in bustling Jakarta, is Thousand Islands, just off North Jakarta. It is a ferry or chartered boat ride away from Marina Ancol Jakarta and takes up to two hours. 

For a visit to Seribu Islands, the Pulau Panjang airstrip is being reactivated.

Borobudur, Central Java is probably best known for being home to the world’s largest Buddhist monument and is the heart of the intriguing Javanese culture. Fly from Denpasar or Jakarta daily to Adisucipto Airport, 1.5 hours, one way. A new Yogyakarta International Airport is also under way.

Bromo – Tengger – Semeru, East Java constitute the largest volcanic region in the country with breath-taking panoramic views at dawn. It is also home to the legendary Semeru, the tallest volcano on Java Island. This region has about 1,000 homestays in the pipeline.

Mandalika, South Lombok, on the other hand, has some stunning beaches and spectacular views. Think five-star hotels and yoga with a sea view. Relax at Senggigi Beach or the quiet Gili Air & Gili Meno Island or let your hair down and party on Gili Trawangan. Air connection via Denpasar and ferry from Padang Bai and Bali. Hotel Pullman and Hotel Royal Tulip are in the works, as is a motor racing circuit.

For spectacular seafood by the sea, visit Labuan Bajo, West Flores Island. Take a fishing boat to Komodo Island – home to the famous Komodo Dragons. Komodo airport is being upgraded to international status soon. Direct flights from Jakarta, South East Asia and Australia are undergoing discussions.

Wakatobi Islands, off South East Sulawesi are a great choice for diving enthusiasts with the largest barrier reef in Indonesia. Visit remote fishing villages or enjoy kiting from boats.

For World War II enthusiasts and history buffs, Morotai, North Maluku is an interesting stop with its wreck diving opportunities. Morotai is home to a world-class hotel with 200 rooms and better roadworks, water supply, electricity and communications access is being worked upon.

* Indonesia is available on stand AS2650