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Indonesia ready to lead tourism sector: Officials

Indonesia is ready to compete with nine other Southeast Asian countries in the tourism sector, prostate as the country starts to see results in developing its connectivity, click Deputy Transportation Minister Bambang Susantono said Wednesday.

“We are going to have Kuala Namu International Airport in North Sumatra, due to be completed next year, which will be the west gate into Indonesia,” Bambang told The Jakarta Post on the sidelines of the International Urban Transportation Conference.

He also said the master plan for the Acceleration and Expansion of Indonesian Economic Growth (MP3EI) would help Indonesia speed up its construction of several strategic projects to support connectivity and tourism, such as the Tanah Ampo Cruise Terminal in Bali.

Tanah Ampo would be operational in 2012 and was expected to be a cruise hub in Indonesia by 2013,
he added.

In addition, he said, Tanah Ampo would be put out to tender next year in order to develop it further.

“We want port operators to be involved with developing this project because we want more than just a hub; we want Tanah Ampo to be a world-class cruise with complete facilities,” he said.

He also encouraged airlines to strengthen their existing provision of domestic flights by connecting potential tourism and business cities to one another.

He said routes linking Balikpapan, known for its oil, gas and mineral resources, to emerging tourism city Mataram, or Mataram to Manado, or Medan to Bandung, were needed.

In a separate interview, Deputy Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Sapta Nirwandar predicted that the number of foreign tourists from ASEAN visiting Indonesia will leap by about 10 percent in 2012.

“We have seen a steady rise in the number of tourists from Thailand and the Philippines this year, due to better conditions in Indonesia,” Sapta said.

Besides Jakarta and Bali, he said Thai and Filipino tourists loved visiting Bandung, Yogyakarta and

He said 43.6 percent of the 7 million tourists who visited the country last year were from ASEAN countries, among which Malaysia was the top contibutor with more than 1 million visitors.

“Our position in ASEAN is getting stronger because Indonesia has a lot to offer, and the MP3EI will help develop more tourist destinations,”
he said.

He said the ASEAN Tourism Strategic Plan (ATSP) 2011-2015 would also help ASEAN to compete with other regions in the world to create a single tourism destination.

“Connectivity is a top priority in the region’s agenda and will spur both Indonesian and regional economic growth,” he continued.

The president of the ASEAN Tourism Association (Aseanta), Wiryanti Sukamdani, said the plan to implement a common ASEAN visa, which would enable foreign visitors to travel within the association’s 10 member nations with a single visa on arrival, would be of huge benefit to the tourism sector.

“If the plan is approved, non ASEAN citizens will need only a single visa to enter any one of our 10 countries. This will encourage more tourists to conme to Indonesia and ASEAN,” Wiryanti said.

She also said the implementation of the ASEAN common visa would speed up the process of establishing the ASEAN Community by 2015. (nfo)


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