India and Indonesia have a long history of cultural exchange and trade, but the two-millennia-long relationship has not necessarily translated into an intimate exchange of inbound tourists. With this fact in mind, the two countries have agreed to explore together the huge potential for tourism between India and Indonesia.
Indian Deputy Ambassador to Indonesia Manish said just a small fraction of Indonesian travelers visited India last year, and Ni Wayan Giri Adnyani, the deputy secretary for overseas tourism development at the Tourism Ministry, acknowledged Manish’s assertion.
With this reality, the two countries have come together to boost relations. India and Indonesia plan to simplify visa procedures, boost marketing activities and develop direct flights connecting the two countries.
Manish said that there was no specific target but the embassy would focus on attracting more Indonesian tourists, while Ni Wayan said that her ministry aimed to see a 30 percent increase in Indian travelers visiting Indonesia this year.
There were around 8 million foreign tourist arrivals in India last year, and Indonesian tourists made up a small fragment of them, with only around 23,000 arrivals, Manish said.
‘We see Indian culture in every corner of Indonesia. But not many Indonesians travel to India,’ Manish said during the promotional event Incredible India held in Jakarta recently.
India has introduced an online visa system so that interested visitors did not need to travel to Indian consulates to acquire one. In the case of Indonesia, travelers interested in visiting India have to go to Jakarta, Medan and Bali to get their visas.
India also recently introduced a 24-hour helpline to guide tourists and help in cases of emergency. The service is available in 12 languages.
Indonesia ‘ meanwhile ‘ scrapped the tourist visa for 90 countries last year, including for India, and Ni Wayan said that this would help attract more Indian tourists.
She said that around 270,000 Indian tourists visited Indonesia last year out of a total figure of 9 million foreign arrivals. The figure is a relatively small one considering the fact that Indians made 18 million overseas trips during 2015.
This year, she added, her ministry aimed to attract 350,000 tourists from the South Asian country.
‘We have actively and aggressively conducted exhibitions to attract more tourists from India, not only from New Delhi and Mumbai, but also from other cities like Hyderabad, Calcutta and Chennai,’ she said.
She said that a larger budget had been set aside for marketing efforts in India. However, she did not have the details at hand.
Ni Wayan also advocated reactivating bilateral working meetings between her ministry and its Indian counterpart in order to work more closely on promoting tourism between India and Indonesia.