“Tourism is the future of this nation and allows Indonesia to compete globally,” said the winner of the 2016 Raki Jatim beauty pageant, Tita Oxa Anggrea. “There are plenty of ideas and concepts to promote local tourism that can be implemented via social media.”
T. Tahmadi, a member of the ministry’s team tasked with speeding up the development of ten priority destinations, noted how the internet impacted the tourism industry. “Everything is becoming digital nowadays, from searching for information to booking hotels. One of the things Lombok did to win the 2016 World Halal Tourism Awards was to conduct promotions through social media; thus, I encourage everyone to post photos and videos of their tourist destinations on social media.”
The Ministry of Tourism wants travel agents to come up with 10 new package tours that they will call the “New Balis” in order to entice international tourists to visit not only the Island of the Gods but also other places of Indonesia.
As the ministry enters the second year of its three-year business plan for the promotion of tourism outside Bali, the focus has shifted from branding, which was executed last year, to advertising. In 2018, the government aims to reach the selling stage.
“If branding is catching people’s attention, advertising aims to persuade people to come to Indonesia, while selling includes giving discounts and price cuts,’ said Tourism Minister Arief Yahya.
“Both airlines and travel agents need to be creative. Perhaps they can do joint promotions or hard-selling promotions to attract tourists to come to Indonesia,” he added.
The ministry is also hoping that the promotion of less popular destinations will distribute air traffic more evenly, alleviating congestion at the airports serving Bali and Jakarta. “The air connectivity problem is an urgent matter for us, since most tourists come to Indonesia by airplane,” said Hiramsyah Sambudy Thaib, who heads a team at the Tourism Ministry tasked with accelerating the development of new tourism hot spots.
The ten promoted destinations include Solo, Medan and Lombok, all of which have their own airport operating 24 hours a day. Airports that are currently being upgraded to accommodate large planes are Silangit Airport in North Sumatra and Leo Wattimena Airport in North Maluku.
“This is a huge opportunity for both airlines and travel agents. They can reverse the tour offerings from two days in Bali and one day in Lombok, for example, to one day in Bali and two days in Lombok, so that it won’t all be concentrated in Bali,” he added.
Construction work to extend the runway of Silangit Airport is slated to conclude by September. Meanwhile, Leo Wattimena Airport currently can only accommodate ATR 72 planes. An upgrade will enable the airport to accommodate Boeing 737s to attract tourists to Morotai. The runway extension is targeted for completion by June next year.
To support continued growth in air traffic, the government is in a process of deregulation to make it easier for airlines to add more flights to Indonesia.
The West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) Police are investigating a 70-year-old Italian citizen, identified only by the initials BG, for allegedly having sexually abused several children.
“Investigators are investigating BG. Apart from collecting information from victims, they are also still examining documents and photos in a laptop and mobile phone belonging to the suspect,” NTB Police spokesperson Adr. Sr. Comr. Tribudi Pangastuti said in Mataram on Tuesday.
She said BG was arrested at his home at the Graha Permata Mataram housing complex on March 1 after the police received a report from the NTB Children Protection Institution (LPA). BG was suspected of having molested six boys, she added.
“He has been arrested for 20 days and the police have requested an additional 20 days to complete their investigation,” said Tribudi. It was revealed in the investigation that BG had lived on Lombok for 20 years.
LPA advocacy division coordinator Joko Jumadi said his organization would give assistance to the six alleged victims. “There are many other victims who have not yet reported his [alleged] crimes to the police. We are tracing them,” he said. It was suspected dozens of children had been victims of BG as authorities found a lot of pictures of children in his laptop and tablet.
Joko said the case was discovered after the LPA received reports from local residents about BG’s behavior, which raised their suspicions.
In the first stage, the LPA would focus its assistance on accompanying the victims in the ongoing legal process. In the rehabilitation process, it would provide psychologists to help heal their trauma, Joko said.
Thousands of people have been flocking to Seger Beach in Kuta village, Pujut district in Central Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara (NTB), since Thursday night to hunt for nyale sea worms as part of the annual Bau Nyale Festival.
Legend has it there was once a very beautiful princess named Mandalika who hailed from the Tunjung Biru kingdom. She was so pretty that princes from neighboring kingdoms came to propose to her. Her father, King Sed, later started a contest that required the princes to fight each other. But the princess was against such violence that she chose to drown herself in the sea, particularly the Seger Beach that is situated right beside Kuta Beach in Central Lombok.
Princess Mandalika is said to have made a promise to see all her people on the 20th day of the 10th month of the Sasak calendar, which this year falls between Feb. 16 and 17.
“According to that legend, the locals still hold the tradition strong that the nyale [sea worms] are the incarnation of Princess Mandalika. That is why when the date approaches, they flock to the beach to hunt for nyale,” Central Lombok Deputy Regent Fathul Bahri told The Jakarta Post at Seger Beach on Thursday night.
Those who catch the nyale sea worms during the festival are said to receive a blessing. The sea worms are believed to be able to help fertilize the paddy when they are planted on the site and make your body healthier when being consumed as a dish. Local women also believe that eating the sea worms will give them an aura of beauty similar to Princess Mandalika.
Fathul adds that in addition to that, the event also helps preserve long-time tradition and increase silaturahmi (communal togetherness) among locals.
Starting this year, the festival has been placed on the national tourism calendar alongside the Tambora Festival on Sumbawa Island and the Tour de Lombok Sumbawa cycling race slated for April.
“This tradition is no longer owned by Central Lombok or NTB, but also Indonesia, thus we all have to preserve it,” said the Tourism Ministry’s archipelago tourism marketing development deputy Esthy Reko Astuty.
NTB Deputy Governor Muhammad Amin said the regency had set a target of attracting 4 million tourists this year. Throughout 2016, it welcomed 3 million visitors; half of them were foreigners from Malaysia, Australia, Europe, the US, the Middle East and other Asian nations, among others.
Other supporting events held during the Bau Nyale Festival include the Peresean Festival on Kuta Beach, a cilokaq (Sasak traditional music instrument) contest, beach volley competition, semi-pro surfing on Seger Beach, cultural parade in the city of Praya, seafood cooking contest and entertaining performances. (kes)