DestinationsMajor infrastructure upgrades and tourism villages are the focus for these five destinations in Indonesia.

Where super-priority hotspots get top-tier support

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In Central Java, a new integrated destination, Borobudur Highlands, is set to open later this year in 2022.
In Central Java, a new integrated destination, Borobudur Highlands, is set to open later this year in 2022. Photo Credit: Gettyimages/MalgorzataDrewniak

Although Bali’s tourism restart may be in the spotlight, development in Indonesia’s five super-priority destinations is ramping up to accommodate increasing numbers of domestic visitors and to lure inbound tourists.

Announced in January 2020, the super-priority destinations are Lake Toba in North Sumatra, the world’s largest volcanic crater lake; Borobudur in Central Java, the world’s biggest Buddhist temple; Labuan Bajo in West Flores, the gateway to Komodo National Park; Mandalika in Central Lombok, a coastal resort area and special economic zone that recently hosted the Indonesian MotoGP tournament; and Likupang in North Sulawesi, a 200-hectare stretch of white sand beaches fringed with world-class dive sites.

On a recent visit to Lake Toba, President Joko Widodo inaugurated multiple infrastructure projects including seven ports, a highway and a beach area. Meanwhile, a major toll road that will reduce travel time from North Sumatra’s capital Medan to Lake Toba from 4.5 hours to 1.5 is due for completion next year. Further, Toba’s first five-star hotel, Marianna Resort, which is part of the Marclan International group, will open its doors at the end of the year.

“I have seen major improvements here [in Lake Toba], so the tourism minister can later proceed with the rebuilding and rebranding programme that will set it apart from other tourist destinations. There is huge potential on offer around Lake Toba,” said the President during his visit, The Jakarta Post reported.

In Central Java, seven villages in the vicinity of the Borobudur temple area are strengthening human resources and improving tourism products for the full operation of a new integrated destination, Borobudur Highlands. With investment of Rp 1.5 trillion (US$103.5 million) and a focus on adventure tourism, ecotourism and agrotourism, the 309-hectare area is slated for completion at the end of 2022.

Although Borobudur has historically been the best known internationally among the five super-priority destinations, Labuan Bajo and the Komodo National Park are steadily gaining a reputation among foreign travellers. The picturesque port town will host 12 side meetings and five events as part of the G20 Summit in Bali in November. Several of the events will be held at a new tourism centre, Waterfront City, due for inauguration in June.

After the Mandalika MotoGP event in late March, which received over 60,000 attendees according to official figures, Indonesia’s tourism ministry is now focusing on developing tourism villages across the West Nusa Tenggara province more widely.

Last but not least, Likupang is preparing a 25-year masterplan to reach 10 million visitors by 2045, with a focus on high-end domestic and foreign travellers, which the tourism ministry has defined as those who spend more than US$1,100 and stay over ten days.

To help fund new projects, Indonesia’s tourism minister, Sandiaga Uno, recently met with 18 major foreign investors in an attempt to drum up US$1.5 billion. “This is a direct instruction from the President: if you want to build, you have to focus,” he said. “If these five destinations have been prepared well this year, next year we will expand.”

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