Monday, April 27, 2009

I want to visit Indonesia

Indonesia is the biggest archipelago in this world. That simply means Indonesia has more than 17,000 islands. If people in France claim that their country is the most romantic place in the world and people in India claim that their country is the most exotic place in the world then people in Indonesia should claim that their country is the most beautiful country in the world. It’s just simply beautiful.

Bali, the number one tourism destination in Indonesia, was awarded the best island in 2007 by Travel and Leisure Magazine. Bali is famous for its great beaches and fantastic cultural attractions. Every international tourist who visits Bali will be amazed by the beauty of Jimbaran beach and Sanur beach. Every tourist will also be entertained so much by the wonderful Kecak dance: The famous Balinese spiritual dance. Bali is indeed very popular and sometimes international tourists even think that Bali is a country instead of part of Indonesia.

But Indonesia is not just Bali. I have been to the mountain of Bromo twice. The mountain is located in East Java and to see the mountain when the sun is rising is an experience that can’t and shouldn’t be described by words. In my opinion the word “beautiful” is not beautiful enough to depict the scenery.

Indonesia is the place if you want to visit Bunaken: A location that some people believe to be the best diving location in the world. It has the clearest seawater in the world with wonderful and breathtaking hard corals, critters, and different fish species.

Indonesia is a beautiful place and there’s no doubt about it. Indonesia is a country blessed with countless great natural resources. You can find beautiful locations from Sabang to Merauke, easily.

Indonesia is simply the place you wish you’d die in.

Sadly, with all the beautiful natural resources Indonesia has not yet shown any improvement in the tourism industry. In 2007, about 5.5 million international tourists arrived in Indonesia. If you think that result is good enough, think again. In the same year 10.3 million tourists visited the small country Singapore and 14.4 million tourists went to Thailand. The champion, Malaysia enjoyed 20.97 million tourists in 2007.

This condition is a painful fact that should be reviewed carefully by the Indonesian Government. The government should think hard and find the secret why a country as small as Singapore could attract more tourists.

There’s an interesting fact that the Indonesian Government should be concerned about, including all of us. Based on the statistics released by Singapore Tourism Board and Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board, Indonesia is their major tourist source. Indonesia was the first tourist-generating market for Singapore’s tourism in 2007. And Indonesia was the second tourist-generating market for Malaysia’s tourism in 2007.

It seems to me that rich Indonesians prefer to visit Singapore and Malaysia rather than go to local tourism attractions. Well, I don’t think we can blame them since those two countries offer better experience of modern tourism. If only the government could ban people from going to Singapore and Malaysia and force them to visit Papua instead.

The new tourism campaign, Visit Indonesia Year 2008, might be the answer for this problem. This new campaign was designed to attract 7 million tourists in 2008. I really hope the campaign is able to attract more tourists to visit Indonesia. But to see how the Ministry of Culture and Tourism had shown its pessimism to be able to achieve its own target even before the campaign was fully implemented, I don’t think Indonesia can improve its tourism industry significantly.

My pessimism grew bigger after I had the chance to compare the new Indonesia’s official tourism website with neighbor countries’ websites. It may not be fair to compare the website with the ones owned by Singapore and Malaysia. But if the Vietnam’s official tourism website is better, I think we have a serious problem.

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