Deni Ghifari, Jakarta – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has instructed the Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry and the Transportation Ministry to focus specifically on attracting tourists from China, India and Russia.
"Our data shows that demand to visit Indonesia from these three countries is very high, but [direct] flights are limited," Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Sandiaga Uno said on Monday.
Sandiaga went on to explain that no direct flights currently connected India or Russia with Indonesia. Options from China were also limited, though the Lion Air Group provided one weekly charter flight from Shenzhen to Denpasar, Bali.
Lion Air was expected to serve regular flights to and from China by April or May, said the ministry's marketing undersecretary, Ni Made Ayu Marthini.
"The Chinese government will review the flight arrangement this February. Industry [players] are of course hoping these flights will be regular," Ni Made said on Monday.
She explained that Beijing had "no problem" with airlines that held permits and flight slots prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, meaning it was possible that those airlines would resume direct flights in the foreseeable future, "probably by spring".
Prior to the pandemic, there were 16 direct flights connecting China and the archipelago, mostly through Denpasar.
As for the Indian market, Sandiaga said, the ministry would wait to gauge demand during the upcoming South Asia Travel and Tourism Exchange (SATTE) in Delhi, scheduled to take place from Feb. 9 to 11.
"The point is, however many flights there are, they will be absorbed, because the demand is high," he said, adding that "wedding destinations are very popular for India".
The government plans to cooperate with private airlines in each country to procure direct flights, which could be either a charter or scheduled flight.
However, Sandiaga said Russia had no airline willing to offer direct flights at present, despite the high demand. "We will try to talk [with Moscow] to innovate and collaborate," he said.
The ministry also revealed that foreign tourist arrivals had not reached even half of pre-pandemic levels to date.