Thailand 'should aim to get more Indonesian tourists'
An Indonesian tourism expert says the unified market in Asean that will come into being in 2015 will open doors for Asean’s private sector tourism industry to build better businesses.
Friday 3 August 2012, 12:50PM
Bagus Sudibya, vice-chairman of the Association of the Indonesian Tour & Travel Agencies, told Thai travel agents at a meeting last week that cooperation was the key to competing in the global market.
“The Asean Economic Community (AEC, which will begin) in 2015 is an opportunity for all Asean member countries to work together and tighten regional competitiveness.
“Now is the time to act and exchange more travellers, particularly between Thailand and Indonesia, as there is vast potential to grow the two markets.” On average, around 40,000 Indonesians a year travel to Thailand, while around 20,000 Thais visit Indonesia.
These figures, he said, should be compared with 2 million or so Indonesian tourists travelling to Malaysia and 1.2 million to Singapore.
“Thailand is not ready to support Indonesian travellers,” he said.
“There are insufficient tour guides who can speak Bahasa.” There are also food issues for Muslim travellers who visit secondary non-Muslim destinations. Indonesia is the world’s fourth most populous country after China, India and the United States, and has the potential to deliver more tourists as its middle class expands with stronger spending power.
Already, its middle class exceeds 40 million from a population of 225 million, and many of them are now travelling overseas.
Indonesia faces stiff competition from Vietnam, Cambodia and Malaysia to attract inbound travellers. Malaysia attracts 11 million foreign tourists annually, while Indonesia is still striving to reach 8 million.