The Tourism Ministry aims to develop 13 national parks and one natural park in a bid to increase ecotourism four-fold. Ecotourism remains an untapped part of Indonesia’s tourist sector, despite the country’s abundant natural wonders.
The areas of interest include Baluran National Park in East Java, Way Kambas National Park in East Lampung and Mount GedePangrango National Park and Ijen Crater Natural Park in Jember. The parks will be divided into three clusters, namely West Nusa Tenggara, Lampung and East Java.
Nature-based tourism makes up 35 percent of visits to Indonesia. Around 500,000 foreign tourists and 5.5 million domestic tourists have travelled to Indonesian parks throughout this year.
The Tourism Ministry aims to increase foreign visits to nature-based places to 2 million by 2020, while domestic visits are expected to reach 20 million in the same year, according to ministerAriefYahya.
“They [Indonesian parks] have great potential and beauty, but they lack promotion,” he told the press on Tuesday as his ministry signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Environment and Forestry Ministry to develop the areas.
The two ministries are considering revising the prices of entrance tickets to the national parks.
At the moment, according to Government Regulation No. 12/2014, the entrance tickets to national parks range from Rp 150,000 (US$11.02) to Rp 250,000 per person for foreign tourists and Rp 5,000 to Rp 20,000 per person for domestic tourists.
Arief said that by combining the efforts of the two ministries, the government could develop the attractiveness and accessibility of ecotourism.
Indonesia’s natural resources ranked 19th place out of 141 countries surveyed in the 2015 Travel and Tourism Competitiveness report by the Geneva-based World Economic Forum. The score outranked its cultural resources and business travel rank, which together stood at 25th.
Former forestry minister Zulkifli Hasan previously estimated that with the optimal use of resources at national parks, the parks could deliver up to Rp 19 trillion per year to the state budget by 2030.
Arief himself stated that his ministry could make tourism the highest contributor to foreign exchange income by 2020, outpacing oil-and-gas, which currently holds the top spot.
The ministry also aimed to increase the contribution of tourism from $10 billion in 2014 to $20 billion in five years.
Meanwhile, Environment and Forestry Ministry director general for ecosystems and natural resource conservation TachrirFathoni said that the ministry would work with travel agents to include the national parks in travel packages.
“So if tourists concentrate on Bali, we can put Alas Purwo National Park or Baluran National Park into a package with Bali. It can stretch the length of stay of the tourists,” Tachrir said.
Publicly listed developer MNC Land has also signed an MoU with the Environment and Forestry Ministry to develop GunungGedePangrango National Park in West Java, with the company agreeing to pave access to the national park from the Bogor-Ciawi-Sukabumi toll road, currently being developed by an MNC Group subsidiary. (fsu)