Minister Arief delivered his message at Boat Lagoon Resort’s Boat Point Meeting room last Thursday (April 27), accompanied by Indroyono Soesilo, Chairman of the Tourism Maritime Acceleration Team, and Fauzi Husien, Head of Sabang Port Authority Agency.
Phuket Governor Norraphat Plodthong and Phuket Vice Governor Teera Anantaseriwidhya were present, along with all the key players in Phuket's yachting industry.
Key to the presentation was that laws had literally been rewritten – and new laws still being drafted – to encourage more yachts to tour Indonesian waters, which are home to some of the most beautiful and most biologically diverse marine environments in the world.
Visas to enter Indonesia are now free to nationals from 169 countries and boats entering Indonesian waters are now processed via the overhauled CIQP (Customs, Immigration, Quarantine, and Port Clearance), through which details of boats arriving are entered online, and usually approved within hours.
A critical question from floor during the post-presentation Q&A session was whether transnational charters were possible, with Phuket yachts picking up clients in Indonesia.
The short answer: Not yet.
“We are working on this right now. I mean, the actual regulations are being drafted at this time,” explained Mr Indroyono.
“Please keep in mind that we are still learning how to do this, and we are learning from – and working closely with – the Thai Government to make this possible,” he added.
Tourism Minister Arief explained that he had arrived in Phuket after meeting with Thai Tourism Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, at which he said the delegation was “very well received”.
“Minister Kobkarn has assigned a Permanent Secretary to work closely with us and to provide assistance to us in working with other Thai government departments to developing these regulations,” he explained.
The Indonesian delegation called on Phuket’s yachting industry to take advantage of the “Sail Sabang 2017” event, which Indonesian President Joko Widodo, better known simply as “Jokowi”, will attend in person to declare officially open in December.
“He has taken a serious interest in developing our marine tourism industry, and has signed specific laws to encourage growth in the sector,” Mr Indroyono noted.
Economic targets have been set to map out Indonesia’s development in the sector, he added.
Of note, Indonesia garnered US$9 billion in revenue from foreign tourists in 2014, a figure slated to be boosted to US$20bn by 2019, Mr Indroyono said.
In that, the US$1 billion in revenues generated by marine-related tourism in 2014 is expected to be ramped up to $4bn within the next two years, he added.
The number of visiting yachts is to upped from 750 to 5,000, during the same period, Mr Indroyono explained. Likewise, the number of cruise ships is to be increased from 400 in 2014 to 800 in 2019, and the number of diving destinations from 25 to 45 over the next two years.
The push is part of the implementation of IMT-GT (Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand – Government Transformation) to boost yachting and cruising tourism throughout the region, he noted.
The push was already gaining traction, Mr Indroyono said, revealing that a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) had already been signed to boost cross-border yachting dealings.
The MoU involved a private enterprise, Mr Indroyono said, but revealed no further details.