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West Java to Boost Tourism Industry

At a session of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) meeting in Bali, tourism officials from West Java predicted the number of foreign visitors to the province would double by 2010. Approximately 1,500 participants from around the world attended which was specifically focused on tourism in West Java.

“This was a golden opportunity. It is not easy to gather a large number of tourism professionals at a single event,” the head of the province’s culture and tourism agency, H.I. Budhyana, said.

While admitting Bali was the country’s premier tourism destination for overseas holidaymakers, Budhyana said he was upbeat that West Java had the potential to develop as an international tourism destination.

West Java has hosted approximately 500,000 foreign visitors annually for the past few years and provincial officials have aimed at attracting 1,000,000 foreign visitors to the province by 2010.

“We are looking at the Netherlands, France, Belgium and Switzerland as potential markets,” Budhyana said.

West Java is among the country’s top destinations for domestic tourists, with almost 30 million local holidaymakers visiting the province last year. It is expected this figure will increase to 40 million by 2010, as the administration looks to overcome infrastructure hurdles and develop potential tourism attractions.

Budhyana said poor infrastructure was still a huge problem in the hilly province, with tourists often complaining about the accessibility of sites of interest.

“The administration allocates about 10 percent of the regional budget to the improvement of infrastructure. This is far from being enough. An increase of 25 percent would be good, although still not ideal,” he said.

Bandung, the capital of the province, is among its most popular tourist destinations and is located near several natural attractions, including Tangkuban Perahu Mountain, Ciburuy Lake and Juanda Forest.

“About 40 percent of the city’s regional revenue comes from tourism,” the city’s economic development board head, Herman Muchtar, said.

The city will host the Asia-Africa Art and Cultural Festival next year as part of its efforts to attract foreign visitors.

Known as Parijs van Java and Mooi Bandoeng during colonial times, the city is rich in historical remnants and is fondly remembered as the host of the historic Asia-Africa conference in 1955.

Frank J.C. Wattimena from the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI) said Bandung would continue to work with tourism officials in Bali to attract visitors.

“We will sign a memorandum of understanding to enhance cooperation between Bandung and the Badung regency (in Bali),” he said.

Bali’s flight services are much more developed than those of West Java, as the Ngurah Rai Airport has long served international flights.

Many tourism destinations in the country, including Bandung, were affected by recent European Union advice about the safety of Indonesian airlines. Foreign visitors generally enter Indonesia through Bali or Jakarta before flying with domestic carriers to other areas of the country.

Wattimena said the future of the tourism industry in West Java was looking promising, with several investors planning to build hotels.

“We will have two more five-star hotels by 2009,” he said, adding that he was optimistic the 1,000,000 visitor target could be achieved by 2010.

Ary Hermawan