Jokowi pushes for faster development of four ‘alternative Bali’ Indonesian destinations

Samosir Island, Lake Toba. Photo: iStock
Samosir Island, Lake Toba. Photo: iStock

The Indonesian government will be focusing on the development of four of 10 priority tourist destinations that have been designated as “alternatives to Bali.”

In a meeting at the presidential palace in Bogor on Thursday, President Joko Widodo and other officials decided which destinations were best to put resources towards for speedier development.

“So now, we will focus on Lake Toba (Sumatra), Borobudur (Central Java), Mandalika (Lombok), and Labuan Bajo (NTT),” Minister of Public Works Basuki Hadimuljono said.

The other six destinations include Belitung (Bangka Belitung), Tanjung Lesung (Banten), the Thousand Islands (Jakarta), Mount Bromo (East Java), Wakatobi National Park (Southeast Sulawesi), and Morotai (North Maluku).

The whole point of naming 10 “alternative Bali’s” is for the country to spread tourism out more amongst the gigantic archipelago, since so many foreign tourists coming to Indonesia focus only on Bali.

Further developing these destinations is also a government strategy to try and meet the president’s ambitious annual target of 20 million foreign tourists to Indonesia per year by 2019.

The president has emphasized that he doesn’t want the upwards spike of Chinese tourists to be an opportunity lost for Indonesia.

“From the data I got, there are approximately 125 million Chinese tourists. That will grow in five years to 180 million and almost half of them will travel to (other Asian countries),” Widodo said, as quoted by Tempo.

The development of these destinations requires the construction of more homestays and restaurants to accommodate increased tourists, said Tourism Minister Arief Yahya. The modeling will be done by the Ministry of Tourism, the construction carried out by the Ministry of Public Works and Public Housing (PUPR), while the “souvenir shops” will be handled by the Ministry of Commerce.

“The point is that the modeling is executed in 2018 at four locations. I have a sent a letter to PUPR and have been instructed by the president that we must provide the models,” said Yahya.

The minister added that focusing on these four destinations doe not mean the government will not develop the other six “alternative Bali’s,” just that priority will be given to these four, as they face the biggest obstacles for development.

So, basically, a strategy focusing on the toughest first. 

For instance, the government has encountered challenges of the land acquisition variety at Lake Toba, where they need enough land to build parking areas, cafes, accommodation, restaurants, and souvenir shops, according to Minister Hadimuljono.

“There are issues with the land, the administration, and so on. President Joko Widodo considers the risk if we keep quiet and move too late, so it’s accelerated and we focus there,” said Hadimuljono.

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