Riza Roidila Mufti, Brunei Darussalam – The Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry formally introduced Indonesia's five super-priority tourism destinations to 43 international journalists attending the ASEAN Tourism Forum 2020 in Brunei Darussalam on Thursday.
The ministry said it expected the effort would spread the word and further information about the destinations, dubbed the new Balis, to more audiences in the world. This is the first time Indonesia introduced the five destinations to international journalists in a formal international business-to-business event.
"Many of them expressed enthusiasm and curiosity," Wisnu Bara Tarunajaya, the ministry's director of tourism human resources and inter-institutional relations, told The Jakarta Post.
"They wanted to know about how to get to the destinations, what products we are ready to offer and what the strategic promotions for the destinations are," he added.
The government is developing the five super-priority destinations as a part of its efforts to make the tourism industry one of the new drivers of economic growth. The destinations are Toba Lake in North Sumatra, Borobudur in Central Java, Labuan Bajo in East Nusa Tenggara, Mandalika in West Nusa Tenggara and Likupang in North Sulawesi.
While the names Borobudur and Labuan Bajo were probably not new to the journalists, other destinations seem to be still unfamiliar for them.
In the media briefing, the journalists were mainly curious about the destinations' infrastructure and accessibility.
A journalist from Croatia asked the ministry's officials about access to Lake Toba, citing his own experience of traveling on "bad roads" from North Sumatra's capital of Medan to the large lake, which he said offered beautiful scenery. The lake is located more than 100 kilometers from Medan.
Wisnu answered the question by explaining that today the access had become much better with wider roads and direct flights available from Medan to Silangit Airport, which has been made the entry point to Lake Toba.
Rizki Handayani, one of the ministry's marketing deputies, added that currently a number of infrastructure developments were being carried out at the five destinations.
"While the developments are ongoing, branding and selling activities must be running too [...] because it takes time to promote the destinations," Rizki said. "We introduce them now as a preparation measure, so that the international community wants to know more and more about the destinations."
One of the government's main agenda items this year is to complete basic infrastructure development in the five destinations. The Public Works and Housing Ministry has a Rp 7.8 trillion budget for infrastructure development in the new Balis.
The developments are to focus on improving connectivity, water resource facilities and other supporting facilities at the destinations.
For instance, the development of the Samosir Ring Road is to support access to Lake Toba and its surrounding area, a road to Lombok International Airport is to support access to Mandalika, the enhancement of the Keprekan-Borobudur road is to support the temple and the procurement of a water supply system would help Labuan Bajo thrive.
The Jakarta Post was invited to cover the ASEAN Tourism Forum from Jan. 13 to 17 by the Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry.