Agustini Rahayu, Director of Tourism Promotion for Indonesia: We are planning joint activities with more than 20 Russian tour operators
On August 2, 2018 Moscow hosted the Russian-Indonesian Business Forum organized by the Business Council in the framework of the III Festival of Indonesia and held at the initiative of the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia in Russia and the Ministry of Tourism of the Republic of Indonesia with the support of the Department of Culture of Moscow.
During the event we had an interview with Agustini Rahayu, Director of Tourism Promotion for Region IV (Europe)
The last year there were several earthquakes in Indonesia. The Ministry of Tourism regularly informed tourists and tourism sector about the situation. Taking this into account, do you plan bigger marketing campaign of Indonesia as tourism destination in Russia? For example, what was the marketing budget the last year and what will be this year?
Indonesia is in the middle of the ring of fire, as you already know. We can’t avoid acting, whenever this happens. It happens everywhere in the world. But especially our destination is in the ring of fire. A week ago you have heard that we had an earthquake in Lombok. But we have cooped up the situation very well within only three days with international and domestic hikers, who still trapped, when the earthquake was happening. This kind of publications helps anyway.
We are going to keep the promotion all over the world, but especially in European market. Because European market is the second biggest important market for Indonesia after China. China is all about the volume, while Europeans are much bigger contributors for Indonesian economic development. So, promotion is very important for Indonesia and we invest a lot. Mainly, about 50%, we promote through mass media. Last year is was 1,2 trillion rupia (almost 100 million USD) for all the countries. For European market we have a slice of about 20%. We have 5 main markets, Russia is one of them and it takes about 5%.
Are you going to increase the budget for the next season?
Next year we are going to do more selling activities, more publications through chosen media. We mean, whatever we do for the past 2 years earned by itself and these publications came organically. Next year it will be slightly up increasing, but it will be focused more on selling, it means more ground exhibition activities. We have a main program which comes into selling, but anyway via media. The media will help us with branding. Numerous familiarization trips, which allow us to inform the media from all over Europe. The publications will automatically appear, while a media is in Indonesia.
Which tourism destinations do you consider as your main competitors in Russia?
Thailand is our main competitor, after Thailand for the Russian Market it is Vietnam.
The last several years, some tourism destinations like Turkey, Israel took decisions to support tour operators and to compensate them part of transportation costs in amount of about 40-45 us dollars per tourist. In May, you have announced willingness to implement in October the similar program with compensation of 25 us dollars per tourist, if he or she will stay at least 11 nights in the country. Do you still have this idea in mind?
We have already started with supporting the flights. We are very keen to work with Russian wholesalers, airlines and charter flights. We have already connected with Utair and several more. Is should not be charter flights only, we can give seats for commercial flights also. We are seeking for partners, that’s why were here.
And what would you answer to those tour operators who think that 25 dollars is too small amount, since the ticket price is about 700-800 dollars. And minus 25 dollars will not decrease the price till 500-600 dollars equal to competitive destinations as Vietnam and Thailand.
We are thinking about that and we put really high consideration about it for next year. Even China gives 100 USD per pax. Because this year is actually the first year Indonesia is arranging such kind of incentives. We are learning. But we have already given the input to the ministry of finance, that the supplement is too small. But it is just the first step, mostly a promotion step.
As a government representative of tourism sector I have to say, that we have to connect other sectors. This year we can proceed with 25 US dollars per pax, including tax. We know, that it is just a cherry on a cake, but again we are learning on our own mistakes. Except incentive cash we have other ways of promotion. For examples its join promotion with tour operators. It is not connected with only 25 USD dollar per pax staying 11 nights, its much more flexible format we offer for our partners.
According to the statistics of our newspaper, Russian Travel Digest, there are 191 tour operators in Russia making tour packages to Indonesia. About 90 of them are in Moscow, others are in regional cities of Russia. How do you or your representative office in Russia works in particular with regional tour operators? Do you organize any familiarization trips especially for regional tour operators to get them more acquainted with destination? In which cities of Russia except Moscow do you organize seminars, workshops, distribute brochures?
We always aim at the biggest cities. Where are the biggest cities? In Moscow and Saint Petersburg. From Moscow and Saint Petersburg we have the biggest outbound numbers. But other regions of Russia should be the second aim. For 4 years we aim to Moscow and Saint Petersburg. Again it will be useful if you send us information about the regions. Because Russia is huge, even bigger then Indonesia ☺
What are your expectations for the next season from Russia? How many Russian tourists do you think will visit Indonesia?
We will be here in September for sales meetings, for OTDYKH. We are planning some more join activities with 20 tour operators.
As we all know, for the Russian tourists Indonesia is Bali, first of all. Although, we all know that Indonesia has more than 17 thousand islands, there is only one touristic island for the Russians, - Bali. How do you plan to attract Russian tourists to other islands, which are actually well visited by other nationalities, like Lombok, Gili, Bintam, Batam, Yava, Sumantra, Sulavesi etc. Which activities do you have in mind?
For tourism promotion three “A”s are needed. These are: accessibility, accommodation and attraction. Actually we have started already the promotion of 10 new destinations beyond of Bali in 2013, so already 5 years ago.
Because we don’t want to promote only one island among 17 thousands islands. We have already prepared the branding to facilitate the promotion. Of course we don’t have to promote Bali any more. This will be Bangka Belitung in Sumatra area, Komodo island and others. We are promoting these ten destinations since 2013.
The very last question – as we know, you used to work for Russian destination some years ago, then changed your positions and now came back to the Russian market.
To be honest, it’s a funny story. Before I worked for 3,6 years for European marketing too as a deputy directors. Then I moved to another division for about 3 years, which worked very close with the media and them I came back. In fact I am new in my current position, but not in Russian market.
What has changed on the Russian market for the last years?
The Russian market is more open. Before I was trying to convince that our country is great etc. In 2015 the Russian market decreased because of the currency rate etc., but revealed very soon. For example this year the Russian travel market demonstrated the increase 9,9% for June only. It means for January - June 68,8 thousands. And our aim is only 100 thousands. The numbers are really very impressive. We had some decrease during the World Cup, even our main competitor Thailand was demonstrating some decrease. But we will do what we have to do to bring more Russian tourists to Indonesia.