CAN you have too much of a good thing? Indonesia’s tourism industry doesn’t seem to think so, as they plan to develop four of the thousands of tropical islands that make up the Indonesian archipelago, to make them more like Bali.
Bali is known for its tranquil serenity, golden beaches, incredible selfie-locations and its welcoming culture. For many years it has been the desired destination for honeymooners, a paradise for travelers wanting a period of rest and relaxation from the bustling cities and for culture seekers wanting to absorb a little bit of the Balinese way of life.
The desire to visit Bali is portrayed in the tourism figures. Bali’s foreign visitor numbers have increased, with a recorded 3.4 million international tourists visiting the island in the first eight months of 2017. The frontrunners of this tourism boom are the Chinese, with a 57.53 increase from last year.
This influx of tourism has grown alongside the surge in China’s urban population being afforded a disposable income to spend on leisurely activities, like vacations. Predictions estimate that 76 percent of China’s entire population will be considered middle class by 2020.
Taking full advantage of this boom in tourism, the Indonesian government is creating new Bali-inspired destinations to cash in on the starry-eyed traveler.
Four of the ten new destinations will be Lake Toba, Borobudur, Mandalik and Labuan Bajo. Of course, these places won’t be transformed into identical replicas of Bali, but they will resonate with the current appeal that Bali has. The plans for restructuring these destinations to entice tourists include homestay and restaurant development as well as the construction of souvenir shops.
“It will be executed in 2018 in four locations. I’ve sent a letter to PUPR (Public Works and Public Ministry) before the limited meeting [with President Joko Widodo] and have been instructed by the president to provide the [design] model,” Indonesia’s Tourism Minister, Arief Yahya told The Jakarta Post.
However, this is no small challenge for Indonesia. Yahya estimates that the industry will need to receive US$20 billion over the next five years, with US$10 billion of this fund coming from the government.
“We need much more investment in infrastructure,” said Anak Agung Gede Yuniartha Putra, Bali’s tourism office chief. “To be successful in tourism, infrastructure is very important, especially for accessibility. When we open a new destination and there is good accessibility, either by air or sea, the number of visitors will grow very fast.”
Let’s hope all of these new destinations have the charm, elegance, and beauty of Bali, and provide a desirable destination that will boost Indonesia’s tourism economy – only time will tell.