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Will MICE be the driving force behind Indonesia’s tourism recovery?

Bali, Bandung, Bintan and Batam among priority destinations in the government's recovery plan.

Bintan and Batam in the Riau Islands are among Indonesia's leading MICE destinations, and have been particularly popular for corporate retreats from Singapore due to their proximity.
Bintan and Batam in the Riau Islands are among Indonesia's leading MICE destinations, and have been particularly popular for corporate retreats from Singapore due to their proximity. Photo Credit:Angsana Bintan

Four priority regions have been selected to act as "beacons" in the six-step recovery programme of Indonesia's Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy.

During the recent “Bounce Back Quickly” webinar conducted by the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy, the ministry’s strategic management director Wawan Rusiawan said the four regions are Bintan and Batam Islands in the Riau Archipelago; Bandung and Cirebon in West Java; Yogyakarta, Surakarta (Solo) and Semarang in Central Java (sometimes referred to as Joglosemar); and Bali, Lombok and Banyuwangi.

To accelerate tourism recovery in these regions, the ministry will prioritise promotion of these destinations to the domestic market and provide stimulus packages to suppliers and travellers.

Rusiawan also stated that the ministry is distributing 2.4 trillion rupiah (US$171 million) worth of travel discounts for Indonesian nationals between October and December. The ministry estimates that this will have a flow-on effect of up to 28.6 trillion rupiah (US$2 billion) for the tourism industry.

“We are focusing on four main destinations that are well-known and have been frequently visited by tourists during the rebound period,” he said.

Developing and promoting outdoor tourism has been a strong focus of the ministry’s recovery campaign since the beginning of Indonesia’s ‘new normal’ period.

The city of Bandung, at an altitude of 673 metres and with a relatively cooler climate, has long been popular for outdoor recreational and team-building activities, making it an obvious candidate for the programme.

According to Joseph Sugeng Irianto, chair of the Indonesian Travel Agents Association (Astindo) regional leadership council of West Java, Bandung offers myriad natural attractions.

“The current trend is for outdoor destinations. Bandung has many mountains, valleys, rivers, tea plantations and forests that provide fresh air, so travellers can feel comfortable and completely avoid indoor crowds,” he said. “There are also many man-made outdoor attractions, such as the Lembang Floating Market and Dusun Bambu.”

As well, Bandung's award-winning ecotourism family recreation park Dusun Bambu is due to reopen on 1 December.

During the ministry’s webinar, secretary general of the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association, Maulana Yusran, encouraged the government to prioritise the MICE sector over the leisure travel sector in its recovery campaign. “From the hotel perspective, MICE is now the main focus,” he noted.

Another of the ministry’s four priority regions, Bintan and Batam in the Riau Islands, is one of Indonesia's leading MICE destinations, and has been particularly popular for corporate retreats from Singapore due to their proximity. The region is expected to receive an increase in foreign arrivals with the new diplomatic and essential business travel agreement between Indonesia and Singapore, which came into effect in late October.

“As a tropical island destination, Bintan already possesses a distinct advantage,” said Alpha Eldiansyah, general manager of Banyan Tree Bintan, Angsana Bintan and Cassia Bintan. “Meeting delegates are certain to welcome a change in scenery after a prolonged hiatus spent indoors. Our integrated resort complex is surrounded by the South China Sea, a private beach and lush rainforests, providing ample opportunities for safe distancing in a natural setting.”

During a recent fam trip in Bintan, Azis Mutaqin, a MICE and leisure travel industry professional and Indonesian Travel Agents Association (Astindo) member, said the island is one of Indonesia’s best MICE choices because of its international hotels, team-building facilities, F&B options, and the ability to “get back to nature.”