Despite having the world’s second-longest coastline, Indonesia has never established itself as the leading destination for maritime visitors. The government, however, has vowed to change this by exploring the country’s maritime tourism potential and targeting an ambitious quadruple increase in the number of visitors.
Indonesia has reportedly only managed to attract around one million foreign visitors and generated US$1 billion from maritime tourism in 2014, which is ten percent of the total foreign exchange revenue from the tourism sector for the year.
However, the government wants four times as many maritime tourists by 2019 and believes the target is a realistic one, judging by the figures Malaysia recently released.
“Malaysia gets US$8 billion from marine tourism and sees a 40 percent contribution from it,” Tourism Minister Arief Yahya said, as quoted by The Straits Times.
In order to improve the appeal for tourists, the government has sought to develop open sea activities like yachting, cruising and diving. Arief highlighted the Raja Ampat Islands in West Papua, which are home to the planet’s most diverse fish and coral resources and have been named by CNN among the world’s best diving sites. Furthermore, he said that the ministry has identified ten diving destinations such as Bunaken in North Sulawesi, Derawan in East Kalimantan and Labuan Bajo in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT).
Indonesia’s maritime tourism has so far depended on coastal areas mostly supporting land-based activities such as sunbathing and beachside snorkelling.
Since he came into office, President Joko Widodo has made the tourism sector–which is currently dominated by cultural attractions–one of his main priorities for development. The government goals are for 15 million foreign visitors this year and 20 million in 2019.