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New tourism minister looks to events, MICE to increase Indonesia’s appeal

In the midst of crafting national tourism masterplan, Wishnutama Kusubandio says the two segments can be country’s saviours in driving foreign exchange income

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New Indonesia tourism minister Wishnutama Kusubandio says events and MICE can be country's saviours in driving foreign exchange income.

JAKARTA - When he first took over the portfolio of Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy in October, Wishnutama Kusubandio was taken aback at the lack of a national tourism masterplan.

The newly-minted minister went straight to work on that, and decided to place events and MICE in the centre of his plans.

In an interview with Indonesian news portal Tempo.co, Mr Wishnutama revealed that Indonesia has yet to hit its target of 18 million overseas tourist arrivals this year.

"We haven't met our target for this year. We had 13.6 million overseas tourists as of October out of the targeted 18 million. I estimate the number to climb to around 16.4 million at the end of the year," he told Tempo.co.

Citing reasons why people are reluctant to visit Indonesia, he added: "There are many events that made people reluctant to visit Indonesia. One of them is the General Elections. Chaos in the country they saw in the news made them think twice to come here.

"Then there were so many travel warnings (and advisories) issued by our target countries in the wake of natural disasters. All of that hampered tourism."

The minister has set a target of 18.5 million for 2020 and believes he can "create more appeal" in Indonesia through events and MICE.

"We'll try and do that by creating more appeal," he said. "For example, the calendar of events that President Joko Widodo often mentioned - our own events or international events.

"Then, the MICE tourism industry which has its own appeal. These two can be our saviours in driving foreign exchange income from the tourism sector in 2020."

He also revealed that President Widodo told him events should be improved and held annually if necessary.

"(This is) so that the tourism industry can be the highest foreign exchange income contributor. It has already generated US$20 billion this year."