BANDAR LAMPUNG, Indonesia (eTN) – The city of Bandar Lampung at the southern tip of Sumatra is the current host for Indonesia’s only B2B trade show, TIME Pasar Wisata. The pictorial city stretching along the Lampung Bay is the first urban center for travelers coming from Java to Sumatra. The unknown destination for international tourists could have been a major attraction to the travel industry gathering for TIME Pasar Wisata, except that the show seems to increasingly struggle to make a name around the world. The blame is not to TIME’s dynamic Dhairwoman Meity Robot. Also not to be blamed is Pacto-Convex, the company organizing TIME since its beginning 17 years ago. To be blamed is generally the way Indonesia looks at its tourism.
Anyone coming to Indonesia will be convinced that this country is one of the most stunning destinations in Southeast Asia thanks to its diversity of landscapes, people, and its incredibly rich cultures. But the promotion of a single travel show originally created to let Indonesia’s tourism sector to meet their counterparts from the rest of world travel seems to have been jeopardized by private interests and rivalries. “Every province, since feeling autonomous, wants to have its own travel fair to sustain its own promotion, instead of putting all eggs in the same basket,” Meity Robot explained.
Indonesia hosts numerous travel shows every year, mixing both consumers and the trade. “Not only provinces but also each travel association has its own show, including airlines,” she added. This lack of commitment to put all Indonesian travel decision-makers under one banner translates into the declining fate of TIME Pasar Wisata.
In its heydays, the travel show used to attract between 200 and 250 buyers for over 100 sellers in Jakarta. This year in Bandar Lampung, 77 buyers came to look at the production of 84 sellers from a dozen provinces. Interestingly, only North Sumatra and the Province of Bengkulu were present besides Lampung Province at the show.
“I felt disappointed by the number of sellers compared to previous years. I do not think that Indonesian officials always measure the importance of tourism. And I did not find also that Lampung totally realized the importance of promoting and organizing the event,” described Ni Lu Riek, Director of Asian Way, a tour operator from the Netherlands.
“As I only sell Indonesia, TIME is still the best place to come to do business. But it is true that it has shrunk in size over the years,” told Tom Van Den Berg, owner of PT Berg Tours, another Dutch tour operator.
By comparison, Thailand Travel Mart last June in Bangkok – the equivalent of TIME – accommodated 348 delegates, while South Africa’s own travel show INDABA welcomed even over 3,000 foreign buyers and visitors. “But both shows benefit from a complete support from all tourism players in their respective country,” analyzed Meity Robot.
What could happen to TIME in 2012? “The show must go on, but we might have to look again at the way it is organized to make it more effective,” said Mrs. Robot. Lampung City administration recognized also that they were some failures and mistakes for this first edition.
According to tourism officials, a new tourism structure, the Lampung Tourism Board, will be created by the end of the month. It will take over all promotion of the province and also be the main driving force to coordinate TIME Pasar Wisata’s next edition. Officials admit that the lack of coordination has turned into a major problem to organize a smooth show.
“We will also analyze all the feedback from buyers including their wishes in terms of the show’s location,” explained Mrs. Robot. Rumors around the show were mentioning that TIME could move back to Jakarta or most probably Java Island. “Nothing has been decided yet. We have to carefully evaluate all options. Officially, Lampung City is still the official venue for our next show. Wait and see,” added Meity Robot.