The Indonesian government has confirmed four locations earmarked for immediate development in the tourism sector: Mandalika in Lombok, Lake Toba in North Sumatra, Borobudur in Central Java and Labuan Bajo in Flores. The combined initiative to enhance and promote these popular locations has been dubbed ‘Four New Balis’ by government officials.
Last year, Indonesia embarked on a policy of ‘10 New Balis.’ The idea was to spread the popularity of Indonesia’s most famous island – Bali – to lesser-known parts of the archipelago, in an effort to replicate its success and distribute tourist arrivals further afield.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo (known locally as ‘Jokowi’) has supported the initiative, stating “if we can prepare 10 New Bali destinations with their own uniqueness, it will become more than interesting.” Whilst these ten locations remain the focal point for investment and development, the tourism ministry has announced it will initially shorten the list to four.
The management of the projects will be assigned to the Board of Authority responsible for each location, whose primary task will be to build Special Economic Zones of Tourism in those areas. The Board of Authority established in each of these tourist destinations has been tasked to build tourist amenities such as hotels, resorts, golf course, restaurants, convention centres, leisure parks and various other facilities. An area which is often held up as a model for development is Nusa Dua in Bali, which is an area developed solely –and successfully – to accommodate tourism.
The project fits into a wider scheme to raise international tourist arrivals to 20 million by 2019. A key growth market in this scheme is China; there is an estimated 125 million tourist originating from China, 62 million of whom opt to spend their holidays in the Asia region. Over the next five years, the total number of Chinese tourists are expected to reach 180 million.
With its myriad natural wonders, cultural attractions and culinary delights, Jokowi sees Indonesia as the perfect destination for this group: “I think we have enough interesting things here to get 20 million Chinese tourists to come to our country every year”, said Jokowi.
Mandalika, Lake Toba, Borobudur and Labuan Bajo are set to receive increased funding, development and promotion from the government over the coming months, in order to improve the infrastructure needed to channel greater numbers of tourists to these locations. With improved accessibility and an increased reputation on the world stage, it is expected that these places will follow the success of Bali and ultimately draw greater numbers of tourists to Indonesia.