JAKARTA, Indonesia – As Asia continues to display steady economic growth, its waters have become major destinations for international cruise ships over the past few years. Indonesia, the largest economy in Southeast Asia, is no exception.
According to data from the Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry, Indonesia has seen its cruise calls and passenger numbers increase by over 30 percent annually as more cruise liners are opting to make stops in several places in the
This year, the nation is expecting a 54 percent jump in cruise calls to 308 calls and a rise of 30.1 percent in the number of passengers to 147,134 people.
Radiance of the Seas by Royal Caribbean International, a larger cruise liner, recently made a stop at Benoa Port in Bali, carrying 2,112 passengers and 859 crew members, the data said.
“As a vast archipelagic country, we are blessed with an abundance of beautiful destinations, each with their own unique attractions and culture that suit the cruise industry market. We are a great market for any kind of ship, from the mega cruise-class to expedition vessel-class as we have a lot to offer tourists,” the ministry’s meeting, incentive, convention, exhibition (MICE) marketing director Rizki Handayani told The Jakarta Post.
She said Indonesia was projected to experience further boosts in its cruise tourism industry as many new players had expressed interest in visiting the country in the coming years during Cruise Shipping Miami 2013 in March, the world’s largest conference and trade show for buyers and suppliers of the global cruise shipping industry for almost three decades.
Paul Gauguin Cruises and Linbald Expeditions are among new operators that plan to enter Indonesia next year, she said.
French-Polynesian Paul Gauguin is set to operate two cruises calling Indonesia from Australia to Singapore and from Singapore to Australia with stops in Komodo Island, Benoa (Bali) and Semarang (Central Java) in July and August 2014.
After participating in Cruise Shipping Miami, Indonesia is expected to see 320 cruise calls and 200,000 passengers in 2014.
“The data we have today is tentative as the figures will continue to increase on account of additional cruise liners that are expected to confirm their visits near the end of the year,” Rizki said.
As there are many players vying for the Indonesian market, the ministry is currently working to create new destination packages for cruise liners.
In Miami, for instance, the ministry promoted the Tanjung Lesung peninsula in Banten as it not only has nice resorts but also offers great attractions. As it is located near Krakatau and Ujung Kulon National Park, Tanjung Lesung is the perfect nature and ecotourism destination, she said.
She also said that the ministry was planning to promote Sabang island, Aceh and several destinations in Sumatra that had cruise destination potential.
“We are going to explore Sabang, Padang, Mentawai, Bengkulu and Bangka Belitung this year. After we study those places, we are going to think about marketing and creating great packages,” she went on.
Despite the growing demand, she said port infrastructure remained a major problem for cruise tourism in Indonesia.
She said that many ships that carried more than 3,000 passengers such as Royal Caribbean, Seabourn Cruise Line and Princess Cruises, were not able to stop in Indonesia, particularly Benoa.
Every Voyager vessel needs a 12-meter deep access channel and an 11-meter turning basin to safely enter and anchor at any port. Meanwhile, Benoa’s current access channel and turning basin measures 10 meters deep.
Contacted separately, state run port operator Pelindo III spokesman Edi Priyanto said that the firm was committed to helping the central government in its aim to boost the cruise tourism sector by developing several important ports throughout this year.
Edi said the firm would deepen the basin of Benoa to 11 meters and its diameter to 325 meters to provide better access for large cruise ships. The project is set to be completed by the end of 2013.
“In 2014, we plan to deepen the basin to 12 meters and the diameter to 400 meters as Benoa will be a cruise hub in the near future,” he told the Post.
Besides Bali, he said that the company was making improvements to Tanjung Emas Port in Central Java, Tanjung Perak Port in East Java and Kumai Port in Central Kalimantan.