Sat, 01 Oct 1994

Indonesia most potential in tourist industry: PATA

JAKARTA (JP): The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) sees Indonesia, with its diversified destinations, authentic cultures and hospitality, as the country with the most potential in the tourist industry in the region.

"Indonesia has the potential to develop a range of unique tourism products, including eco-tourism, cultural, resort-based, cruise travel tourism as well as conventions and meetings," PATA President Lakshman Ratnapala told a seminar at the Tourism Indonesia Mart `94 yesterday.

He said that Indonesia sits upon a natural eco-tourism bonanza.

"If the country's tourism promotion mechanism can effectively articulate the diversity of its land-forms, eco-tourism and natural areas and restrict the uniqueness of its biological endowments over its Southeast Asian and southern Pacific neighbors, then the rice fields of Bali, the coral reefs of Ambon, the orangutan of Bohorok and the Javanese rhino can all realize their potential to enhance an appreciation of the natural world and the beauty of Indonesia," he said.

He also said that in terms of cultural tourism, Indonesia has been successful in promoting the unique cultural legacy of Bali. The opportunities, however, are much more, he said, adding that for the most part tourism development in places like Bali or Toraja of southern Sulawesi has occurred with the approval of the majority of the local communities.

Ratnapala said that what is even more important is that the cultural aspects of the tourism products have retained their authenticity and availability.


He also said that Indonesia should, however, improve standards of quality in tourism products.

"Today's travelers are extremely discernible when it comes to quality in the tourism products they purchase. Indonesia, thus, needs to compete with other countries in the region," he said.

Adequate numbers of trained staff is the key to tapping the potential markets and keeping the country competitive and in line with the extraordinarily high service standards the region is proud of, he added.

Tourist arrivals in Indonesia grew by some 11 percent last year to reach 3.4 million, bringing in US$3.98 billion in foreign exchange. The figures in 1992 stood at 3.06 million and $3.27 billion. In the first eight months of this year, some 2.16 million visitors arrived in the country, 17 percent higher than the 1.83 million recorded in the same period of 1993. The country expects to have 3.88 million to 3.95 million foreign tourists this year with an average stay of 11 days.

According to Ratnapala, tourist arrivals in Indonesia over the past five years shows an average annual growth rate of 21.2 percent, well above the average for the region.

He also said that the Rp 3.6 billion ($1.65 million) travel mart, which is being held here from Sept. 29 to Oct. 3, is an effective way to introduce the country's tourism industry.(icn)