'Visit Indonesia Year 2008' in the works
In a concrete effort to finally do something to improve the country's tourism fortunes, the government is set to stage a "Visit Indonesia Year" in 2008.
As part of the drive to improve visitor numbers, improvements will also be made to basic infrastructure in some of the country's top tourist destinations.
The official announcement of the campaign, the second that will be held by the country after an earlier one in 1992, will be made next month, and will kick off a months' long promotion campaign, the Culture and Tourism Ministry's director general of marketing, Thamrin B. Bachri, said Tuesday.
Throughout 2008, the country will stage 100 international-scale events and cultural festivals, with the "visit Indonesia" campaign being timed to coincide with the World Culture Forum 2008.
"We have held meetings with the provincial administrations to outline our plans and ensure that their regions are ready for the events," Thamrin said.
The ministry, he said, was encouraging them to develop tourist attractions in their respective regions by improving facilities and access to the attractions.
In the first Visit Indonesia Year in 1992, the country boosted foreign tourist arrivals by more than 20 percent to 3.1 million from 2.5 million the previous year.
Thamrin did not say how many visitors were expected to visit Indonesia during next year's campaign.
For this year, the ministry is hoping to attract 6 million foreign tourists -- expected to generate around US$5 billion in foreign exchange earnings -- through its "tourism acceleration program".
Last year, foreign tourist arrivals stood at 4.8 million.
To support the acceleration program and prepare for next year, the ministry has requested additional funding of Rp 158.4 billion (US$17.6 million) from the revised 2007 budget, which is currently under deliberation in the House of Representatives.
The original 2007 budget allocated Rp 982 billion to the ministry.
Of the additional funding, the acceleration program -- which includes overseas promotional campaigns and improvements to basic infrastructure, such as roads, and electricity and telephone access in tourist areas -- will get the lion's share of Rp 153 billion.
The planned overseas promotional campaign includes advertising on international television channels, said Culture and Tourism Minister Jero Wacik.
"Advertisements on such TV channels are one of the most effective ways of attracting foreign tourists," he said, adding that other countries, such as Malaysia and Thailand, spent vast sums on such advertising.
"We will be out of sight of the rest of the world if we don't take effective and immediate action to raise awareness among overseas tourists that Indonesia is a safe and attractive place to visit."
Malaysia is targeting 20 million foreign tourists this year through its "Visit Malaysia Year" campaign. The country hosted 17.5 million overseas tourists last year.Source: www.thejakartapost.com