Tourism in Indonesia is an important component of the Indonesian economy as well as a significant source of its foreign exchange revenues. The vast country of sprawling archipelago has much to offer; from natural beauty, historical heritage to cultural diversity.
In 2011, the number of international tourists arriving in Indonesia climbed 9.24 percent to 7.65 million arrivals from about 7 million in 2010. Length of stay set at 7.84 days by an average spend of US$1,118.26 per visit.
Both nature and culture are major components of Indonesian tourism. The natural heritage can boast a unique combination of a tropical climate, a vast archipelago of 17,508 islands, 6,000 of them being inhabited, the third longest shoreline in the world (54,716 km) after Canada and the European Union. It is the worlds largest and most populous country situated only on islands. The beaches in Bali, diving sites in Bunaken, Mount Rinjani in Lombok and various national parks in Sumatra are just a few examples of popular scenic destinations. These natural attractions are complemented by a rich cultural heritage that reflects Indonesia’s dynamic history and ethnic diversity. One fact that exemplifies this richness is that 719 living languages are used across the archipelago.The ancient Prambanan and Borobudur temples, Toraja, Yogyakarta, Minangkabau, and of course Bali, with its many Hindu festivities, are some of the popular destinations for cultural tourism.
Tourism in Indonesia is currently overseen by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. International tourism campaigns have been focusing largely on its tropical destinations with white sand beaches, blue sky, and cultural attractions. Beach resorts and hotels have been developed in some popular tourist destinations, especially Bali island as the primary destination. At the same time, the integration of cultural affairs and tourism under the scope of the same ministry shows that cultural tourism is considered an integral part of Indonesia’s tourism industry, and conversely, that tourism is used to promote and preserve the cultural heritage.
Some of the challenges Indonesia’s tourism industry has to face include the development of infrastructure to support tourism across the sprawling archipelago, incursions of the industry into local traditions (adat), and the impact of tourism development on the life of local people. In 2010, based on World Economic Forum survey, Indonesia got Tourism Competitiveness Index at number 74 (up from number 81) from 139 countries. The tourism industry in Indonesia has also faced setbacks due to problems related to security. Since 2002, warnings have been issued by some countries over terrorist threats and ethnic as well as religious conflicts in some areas, significantly reducing the number of foreign visitors for a few years. However, the number of international tourists has bounced back positively since 2007, and reached a new record in 2008.
Garuda Indonesia airplane with Visit Indonesia logo
In late January 2011 Culture and Tourism Minister Jero Wacik announced that “Wonderful Indonesia” would replace the previous “Visit Indonesia Year” branding used by the nations official tourism promotional campaigns, although the logo of stylized curves Garuda remain. The minister announced that in 2010, foreign tourists visiting Indonesia touched 7 million and made predictions of 7.7 million in 2011. He was reported as describing the new branding as reflecting “the country’s beautiful nature, unique culture, varied food, hospitable people and price competitiveness. “We expect each tourist will spend around US$1,100 and with an optimistic target of 7.7 million arrivals, we will get $8.3 billion,” from this. The Culture and Tourism Minister added that 50 percent of the revenue would be generated from about 600 meetings, conventions and exhibitions that were expected to take place in various places throughout the country 2011. He further added in the announcements of January 2011 that his ministry would be promoting the country’s attractions under the eco-cultural banner.