MANADO, Indonesia (eTN) – It is Asia’s first big show of the year. With ASEAN Travel Forum and TRAVEX starting officially from tomorrow – meeting with ministers and heads of NTOs have already begun over the weekend, as Indonesia plays host to Southeast Asia’s largest travel show.
Over 1,600 delegates are due to meet in Manado until January 15 at the Grand Kawanua Convention Centre in Manado City Centre. The show will have 450 exhibition booths representing some 300 companies. ATF organizers expect over 400 trade buyers from all across the world, as well as 100 international and local media.
The show is not only the right place to learn all about Southeast Asia’s latest trends. This is also an opportunity for the host country to highlight the strength of a destination. Indonesia Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy – the new name for the previous Ministry of Culture and Tourism – hopes then to further boost Indonesia’s appeal to tourists. Last year, first estimates indicate that Indonesia continued to attract more travelers to its shores. Growth was close to 10 percent with 7.6 million foreign arrivals compared to seven million a year earlier. According to Deputy Minister for Tourism and Creative Economy Sapta Nirwandar, Indonesia should welcome slightly over 8 million foreign travelers in 2012, up by 6.5 percent. Total revenues should have reached US$8.4 billion, up from US$7.6 billion in 2010.
Manado and the province of North Sulawesi expects also to take profit from hosting ATF. According to North Sulawesi Governor Sinyo H. Sarundajang to the Jakarta Post, the province expects to welcome 100,000 foreign travelers by the end of the year, compared to 40,000 last year. However, a major problem for the province is still the lack of international connections to easily reach the province. Asked a year ago about the difficulty of accessing Manado directly from the rest of Southeast Asia, the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Industry replied by expressing its confidence that the problem could be easily solved. Manado is today only linked to Singapore by up to 5 weekly flights. All connecting passengers must generally go through Jakarta, meaning long transit times. More than ever, the issue must urgently be solved if Manado and North Sulawesi want to be firmly anchored among ASEAN top marine tourism destinations.