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Tourism in Indonesia

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Tourism in Indonesia

Jimbaran Beach, Bali
Indonesia possess rich and colourful culture, such as Barong dance performance in Bali.
Wakatobi National Park, Southeast Sulawesi.

Tourism in Indonesia is an important component of the Indonesian economy as well as a significant source of its foreign exchange revenues. The vast country of sprawling archipelago has much to offer; from natural beauty, historical heritage to cultural diversity. In 2012 the tourism sector contributes to around US$9 billion of foreign exchange, and is estimated will surpassed US$10 billion in 2013. The tourism sector ranked as the 4th largest among goods and services export sectors.[1]

In year 2014, 9.4 million international visitors entered Indonesia,[2] staying in hotels for an average of 7.5 nights and spending an average of US$1,142 per person during their visit, or US$152.22 per person per day.[3] Singapore, Malaysia, China, Australia, and Japan are the top five sources of visitors to Indonesia.


  • Overview 1
  • Branding 2
  • Statistics 3
    • Tourist arrivals in Indonesia 2002–2014 3.1
  • Historical context 4
  • Nature tourism 5
    • Dive sites 5.1
    • Surf breaks 5.2
    • National parks 5.3
    • Volcanoes 5.4
  • Cultural tourism 6
    • Ancient temples 6.1
    • Islamic heritage 6.2
    • Colonial heritage 6.3
    • Urban tourism 6.4
    • Gastronomy tourism 6.5
  • Sex tourism 7
  • International tourist arrivals 8
    • International airports 8.1
    • Visa regulations 8.2
  • Indonesian tourism campaign 9
    • Visit Indonesia Year 1991 9.1
    • Visit Indonesia Year 2008 9.2
    • Visit Indonesia Year 2009 9.3
    • Visit Indonesia Year 2010 9.4
    • Wonderful Indonesia (since 2011) 9.5
  • Destination Management Organization 10
  • Threats to the tourism industry 11
  • Guide books 12
  • Gallery 13
  • See also 14
  • References 15
  • Further reading 16
  • See also 17
  • External links 18


Borobudur is the single most visited tourist attraction in Indonesia.[4]

Both nature and culture are major components of Indonesian tourism. The natural heritage can boast a unique combination of a tropical climate, a vast archipelago of 17,508 islands, 6,000 of them being inhabited,[5] the third longest shoreline in the world (54,716 km) after Canada and the European Union.[6] It is the worlds largest and most populous country situated only on islands.[7] The beaches in Bali, diving sites in Bunaken, Mount Bromo in East Java, Lake Toba and various national parks in Sumatra are just a few examples of popular scenic destinations. These natural attractions are complemented by a rich cultural heritage that reflects Indonesia's dynamic history and ethnic diversity. One fact that exemplifies this richness is that 719 living languages are used across the archipelago.[8] The ancient Prambanan and Borobudur temples, Toraja, Yogyakarta, Minangkabau, and of course Bali, with its many Hindu festivities, are some of the popular destinations for cultural tourism.

Tourism in Indonesia is currently overseen by the Indonesian Ministry of Culture and Tourism.[9] International tourism campaigns have been focusing largely on its tropical destinations with white sand beaches, blue sky, and cultural attractions. Beach resorts and hotels have been developed in some popular tourist destinations, especially Bali island as the primary destination. At the same time, the integration of cultural affairs and tourism under the scope of the same ministry shows that cultural tourism is considered an integral part of Indonesia's tourism industry, and conversely, that tourism is used to promote and preserve the cultural heritage.

Some of the challenges Indonesia's tourism industry has to face include the development of infrastructure to support tourism across the sprawling archipelago, incursions of the industry into local traditions (adat), and the impact of tourism development on the life of local people. The tourism industry in Indonesia has also faced setbacks due to problems related to security. Since 2002, warnings have been issued by some countries over terrorist threats and ethnic as well as religious conflicts in some areas, significantly reducing the number of foreign visitors for a few years. However, the number of international tourists has bounced back positively since 2007, and reached a new record in 2008[10][11] and then made a new record every year and in 2012 set at 8,044,462 foreign tourists.[12]

In 2015, based on World Economic Forum survey, Indonesia got Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index score 4.04 and rank at number 50,[13] (up from number 70 in 2013, number 74 in 2011 and number 81 in 2009) from 141 countries.[14][15] Aspects that need to be improved to move up the rank ladder are; tourism and ICT infrastructures, health and hygiene, environmental sustainability, and affinity for travel and tourism.


Garuda Indonesia aeroplane with Visit Indonesia logo

In late January 2011 Culture and Tourism Minister Jero Wacik announced that "Wonderful Indonesia" would replace the previous "Visit Indonesia Year" branding used by the nations official tourism promotional campaigns, although the logo of stylised curves Garuda remain.[16] The minister announced that in 2010, foreign tourists visiting Indonesia touched 7 million and made predictions of 7.7 million in 2011. He was reported as describing the new branding as reflecting "the country's beautiful nature, unique culture, varied food, hospitable people and price competitiveness. "We expect each tourist will spend around US$1,100 and with an optimistic target of 7.7 million arrivals, we will get $8.3 billion," from this. The Culture and Tourism Minister added that 50 percent of the revenue would be generated from about 600 meetings, conventions and exhibitions that were expected to take place in various places throughout the country 2011. He further added in the announcements of January 2011 that his ministry would be promoting the country's attractions under the eco-cultural banner.[17]


Tourist arrivals in Indonesia 2002–2014

Source:Statistics Indonesia[18]

Country 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
 Singapore 1,447,315 1,469,282 1,644,717 1,417,803 1,401,804 1,352,412 1,397,056 1,272,862 1,373,126 1,505,588 1,565,478 1,634,149 1,739,825
 Malaysia 475,163 466,811 622,541 591,358 769,988 891,353 1,117,454 1,179,366 1,277,476 1,302,237 1,335,531 1,430,989 1,485,643
 Australia 346,245 268,538 406,389 391,862 226,981 314,432 450,178 584,437 771,792 931,109 961,595 997,984 1,128,533
 China 36,685 40,870 50,856 112,164 147,245 230,476 337,082 395,013 469,365 574,179 686,779 807,429 926,750
 Japan 620,722 463,088 615,720 517,879 419,213 508,820 546,713 475,766 418,971 412,623 450,687 491,574 525,419
 South Korea 210,581 201,741 228,408 251,971 295,514 327,843 320,808 256,522 274,999 306,061 311,618 343,627 370,142
 Taiwan 400,334 381,877 384,226 247,037 236,384 227,586 224,194 203,239 213,442 221,877 216,535 245,288 244,003
 United Kingdom 160,077 98,916 113,578 163,898 110,412 121,599 150,412 169,271 192,259 192,685 212,087 228,679 249,218
 Philippines 84,060 76,665 76,742 78,402 74,982 137,317 159,003 162,463 189,486 223,779 229,806 246,497 253,237
 United States 160,982 130,276 153,268 157,936 130,963 155,652 174,331 170,231 180,361 204,275 212,851 234,134 251,380
 France 96,844 75,945 91,710 109,567 98,853 104,473 125,216 159,924 163,110 148,381 170,046 190,853 210,097
 Netherlands 110,631 91,446 92,152 114,687 110,272 106,987 140,771 143,485 151,836 159,063 146,591 158,181 169,308
 Germany 142,649 113,895 134,625 156,414 106,629 112,160 137,854 128,649 145,244 145,160 148,146 168,110 184,815
 India 35,063 29,895 36,169 36,679 54,346 68,908 102,179 110,658 137,027 154,237 168,187 201,009 223,607
 Thailand 50,589 42,585 55,024 44,897 42,155 68,050 76,842 109,547 123,825 141,771 149,760 141,349 136,833
Indonesian Tourism Statistics[10][19][20][21][22]
Year International visitors Average stay (days)
2000 5,064,217 12.26
2001 5,153,620 10.49
2002 5,033 400 9.79
2003 4,467,021 9.69
2004 5,321,165 9.47
2005 5,002,101 9.05
2006 4,871,351 9.09
2007 5,505,759 9.02
2008 6,429,027 8.58
2009 6,452,259 7.69
2010 7,002,944 8.04
2011 7,649,731 7.84
2012 8,044,462 7.70
2013 8,802,129 7.65
2014 9,435,411 7.66

Ten most tourist destinations in Indonesia recorded by Central Statistics Agency (BPS) are Bali, West Java, Central Java, East Java, Jakarta, North Sumatra, Lampung, South Sulawesi, South Sumatra, Banten and West Sumatra (which would make it 11 provinces today due to Banten previously having been a part of West Java).[23]

As with most countries, domestic tourists are by far the largest market segment. The biggest movement of domestic tourists is during the annual Eid ul-Fitr, locally known as lebaran. During this period, which is a two-week holiday after the month of fasting during Ramadan, many city-dwelling Muslim Indonesians visit relatives in their home towns. Intercity traffic is at its peak and often an additional surcharge is applied during this time.

Over the five years up to 2006, attention has been focused on generating more domestic tourism. Competition amongst budget airlines has increased the number of domestic air travellers throughout the country. Recently, the Ministry of Labour legislated to create long weekends by combining public holidays that fall close to weekends, except in the case of important religious holidays. During these long weekends, most hotels in popular destinations are fully booked.

Since 2000, on average, there have been five million foreign tourists each year (see table), who spend an average of US$100 per day. With an average visit duration of 9–12 days, Indonesia gains US$4.6 billion of foreign exchange income annually.[10] This makes tourism Indonesia's third most important non-oilgas source of foreign revenue, after timber and textile products.[5]

After toppled Japan 2 years ago, China as the world's biggest tourism spenders now toppled Australia to become number three with 30.42 percent increase year-on-year (y-o-y), while totally foreign tourists growth by 10.6 percent y-o-y set to more than 2.9 million. The top countries of origin Q1 2014 data is come from the Asia-Pacific region, with Singapore (15.7 percent), Malaysia (14.0), China (11.0), Australia and Japan among the top countries of origin.[24] The United Kingdom, France, and Germany are the largest sources of European visitors.[25] Although Dutch visitors are at least in part keen to explore the historical relationships, many European visitors are seeking the tropical weather at the beaches in Bali.

Around 59% of all visitors are travelling to Indonesia for holiday, while 38% for business purposes.[26]

In 2012, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council travel and tourism made a total contribution of 8.9% of GDP and supported 8% of total employment in Indonesia.[26]

Historical context

Hotel des Indes in Batavia, 1910
Fort Rotterdam in Makassar

The service and hospitality sector that linked to travel and leisure probably already exist since ancient Indonesia, especially ancient Java circa 8th century. Some panels in Borobudur bas-reliefs depicted drink vendors, warungs (small restaurant), and there is a building depicting people drinking, dancing and having fun, seems to describe tavern or lodging. The historical record about travel in Indonesia can be found since 14th century.[27] The Nagarakretagama reported about King Hayam Wuruk's royal travel throughout Majapahit realm in East Java with large numbers of carriages, accompanied by nobles, royal courtiers, officials and servants.[27] Although it seems as stately affair, for some instances the king's journey is somewhat resembles modern day tour, as the king visited numbers of interesting places; from temples such as Palah and Jajawa, to enjoying mountain scenery, having bath in petirtaan (bathing pools) and beach. The 15th-century travelogue of Bujangga Manik, a travelling Hindu scholar-priest from Pakuan Pajajaran, reported about his travel around Java and Bali. Although his travel was a pilgrimage one; visiting temples and sacred places in Java and Bali, sometimes he behaves like a modern-day tourist, such as sitting around fanning his body while enjoying beautiful mountain scenery in Puncak area, look upon Gede volcano that he describes as the highest point around Pakuan Pajajaran (capital of Sunda kingdom).[28]

Initially the tourism, service and hospitality sector in Dutch East Indies were developed to cater the lodging, entertainment and leisure needs of domestic visitors, especially the wealthy Dutch plantation owners and merchants during their stay in the city. In the 19th century, colonial heritage hotels equipped with dance halls, live music and fine dining restaurants were established in Dutch East Indies urban areas, such as Hotel des Indes (est. 1829) in Batavia (now Jakarta), Savoy Homann Hotel (est. 1871) in Bandung, Hotel Oranje (est. 1910) in Surabaya, and Hotel De Boer in Medan. Since the 19th century Dutch East Indies has attracted visitors from The Netherlands.[27] The first national tourism bureau was the Vereeeging Toeristen Verkeer, established by Governor General of Dutch East Indies in early 20th century, and shared their head office in Batavia with Koninklijke Nederlansch Indische Luchtfahrt Maatschapijj (part of KLM) that began to fly from Amsterdam to Batavia in 1929.[27] In 1913, Vereeneging Touristen Verkeer wrote a guide book about tourism places in the Indies. Since then Bali become known to international tourist with foreign tourist arrivals rose for more than 100% in 1927.[27] Much of the international tourism of the 1920s and 1930s was by international visitors on oceanic cruises. The 1930s did see a modest but significant influx of mainly European tourists and longer term stayers to Bali. Many came for the blossoming arts scene in the Ubud area, which was as much a two-way exchange between the Balinese and outsiders as it was an internal phenomenon.[29]

Tourism more or less disappeared during World War II, Indonesian National Revolution and in the early years of the Sukarno era. On 1 July 1947, the government of Republic of Indonesia tried to revive tourism sector in Indonesia by establishing HONET (Hotel National & Tourism) led by R. Tjitpo Ruslan. This new national tourism authority took over much of colonial heritage hotels in Java and all named as "Hotel Merdeka". After Dutch–Indonesian Round Table Conference in 1949, this tourism authority change its name to NV HORNET.[27] In 1952 the President formed the Inter-Departement Committee on Tourism Affairs that responsible to explore the possibility to reestablish Indonesia as world's tourism destination.[30] National pride and identity in the late 1950s and early 1960s was incorporated into the monumentalism of Sukarno in Jakarta— and this included the development of grand multi-storied international standard hotels and beach resorts, such as Hotel Indonesia in Jakarta (est. 1962), Ambarrukmo Hotel in Yogyakarta (est. 1965), Samudra Beach Hotel in Pelabuhan Ratu beach West Java (est. 1966), and Inna Grand Bali Beach Hotel in Bali (est. 1966). The political and economic instability of the mid-1960s saw tourism decline radically again. Bali, and in particular the small village of Kuta, was however, in the 1960s, an important stopover on the overland hippy trail between Australia and Europe, and a "secret" untouched surf spot.[31] In the early-to-mid-1970s, high standard hotels and tourist facilities began to appear in Jakarta and Bali. After the completion of Borobudur restoration project in 1982, Yogyakarta become a popular tourist attraction in Indonesia after Bali, mostly attracted to this 8th-century Buddhist monument, surrounding ancient Javanese temples and Yogyakarta Sultanate palace. From this period to the end of the Suharto era, governmental policies of the tourism industry included an array of regulations and developments to encourage increasing numbers of international tourists to both visit Indonesia and stay longer.

Nature tourism

Sianok canyon in Bukittinggi, West Sumatra
Raja Ampat, one of the world's richest marine biodiversity

Indonesia has a well-preserved, natural ecosystem with rainforests that stretch over about 57% of Indonesia's land (225 million acres), approximately 2% of which are mangrove systems.[32][33] One reason why the natural ecosystem in Indonesia is still well-preserved is because only 6,000 islands out of 17,000 are permanently inhabited.[34] Forests on Sumatra and Java are examples of popular tourist destinations. Moreover, Indonesia has one of longest coastlines in the world, measuring 54,716 kilometres (33,999 mi),[35] with a number of beaches and island resorts, such as those in southern Bali, Lombok,[36] Bintan and Nias Island.[37] However, most of the well-preserved beaches are those in more isolated and less developed areas, such as Karimunjawa, the Togian Islands, and the Banda Islands.

Dive sites

With more than 17,508 islands, Indonesia presents ample diving opportunities. With 20% of the world's coral reefs, over 3,000 different species of fish and 600 coral species, deep water trenches, volcanic sea mounts, World War II wrecks, and an endless variety of macro life, scuba diving in Indonesia is both excellent and inexpensive.[38] Bunaken National Marine Park, at the northern tip of Sulawesi, claims to have seven times more genera of coral than Hawaii,[39] and has more than 70% of all the known fish species of the Indo-Western Pacific.[40] According to Conservation International, marine surveys suggest that the marine life diversity in the Raja Ampat area is the highest recorded on Earth.[41] Moreover, there are over 3,500 species living in Indonesian waters, including sharks, dolphins, manta rays, turtles, morays, cuttlefish, octopus and scorpionfish, compared to 1,500 on the Great Barrier Reef and 600 in the Red Sea.[42] Tulamben Bay in Bali boasts the wreck of the 120 metres (390 ft) US Army commissioned transport vessel, the Liberty.[43] Other popular dive sites on Bali are at Candidasa and Menjangan. Across the Badung Strait from Bali, there are several popular dive sites on Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida. Lombok's three Gilis (Gili Air, Gili Meno and Gili Trawangan) are popular as is Bangka. Some of the most famous diving sites in Indonesia are also the most difficult to reach, with places like Biak off the coast of Papua and the Alor Archipelago among the popular, more remote, destinations for divers.

Surf breaks

Surfing in Kuta beach, Bali

Surfing is also a popular water activity in Indonesia and the sites are recognised as world class.[44] The well-known sports are mostly located on the southern, Indian Ocean side of Indonesia, for example, the large oceanic surf breaks on southern Java. However, the north coast does not receive the same surf from the Java Sea. Surf breaks can be found all the way along Sumatra, down to Nusa Tenggara, including Aceh, Bali, Banten, Java, Lombok, the Mentawai Islands, and Sumbawa. Although Indonesia has many world-class surfing spots, the majority of surfers are came from abroad, especially Australia and United States. However, the seed of local surfing enthusiast began develop in Bali and West Java's Pelabuhan Ratu and Pangandaran beach, mostly came from nearby cities of Jakarta and Bandung. On Bali, there are about 33 surf spots, from West Bali to East Bali including four on the offshore island of Nusa Lembongan. In Sumbawa, Hu'u and Lakey Beach in Cempi Bay are popular surfing spots among surfing enthusiast. Sumatra is the second island, with the most number of surf spots, with 18 altogether. The common time for surfing is around May to September with the trade winds blowing from east to south-east. From October to April, winds tend to come from the west to north-west, so the east coast breaks get the offshore winds.

Two well-known surf breaks in Indonesia are the G-Land in the Bay of Grajagan, East Java, and Lagundri Bay at the southern end of Nias island. G-Land was first identified in 1972, when a surfer saw the break from the window of a plane. Since 6 to 8-foot (Hawaiian scale) waves were discovered by surfers at Lagundri Bay in 1975, the island has become famous for surfing worldwide.

National parks

Bogor Botanical Gardens established in 1817, and Cibodas Botanical Gardens established in 1862, are two among the oldest botanical gardens in Asia. With rich collections of tropical plants, these gardens is the centre of botanical research as well as tourism attraction since colonial era.

There are 50 national parks in Indonesia, of which six are World Heritage listed. The largest national parks in Sumatra are the 9,500-square-kilometre (3,700 sq mi) Gunung Leuser National Park, the 13,750-square-kilometre (5,310 sq mi) Kerinci Seblat National Park and the 3,568-square-kilometre (1,378 sq mi) Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park, all three recognised as Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Other national parks on the list are Lorentz National Park in Papua, Komodo National Park in the Lesser Sunda Islands, and Ujung Kulon National Park in the west of Java.

To be noticed, different national parks offer different biodiversity, as the natural habitat in Indonesia is divided into two areas by the Wallace line. The Wallacea biogeographical distinction means the western part of Indonesia (Sumatra, Java, Kalimantan) have the same flora and fauna characteristics as the Asian continent, whilst the remaining eastern part of Indonesia has similarity with the Australian continent.[36]

Many native species such as Sumatran elephants, Sumatran tigers, Sumatran rhinoceros, Javan rhinoceros and orangutans are listed as endangered or critically endangered, and the remaining populations are found in national parks and other conservation areas. Sumatran orangutan can be visited in the Bukit Lawang conservation area, while the Bornean orangutan can be visited in Tanjung Puting national park, Central Kalimantan. The world's largest flower, rafflesia arnoldi, and the tallest flower, titan arum, can be found in Sumatra.

The east side of the Wallacea line offers the most remarkable, rarest, and exotic animals on earth.[45] Birds-of-paradise, locally known as cendrawasih, are plumed birds that can be found among other fauna in Papua New Guinea. The largest bird in Papua is the flightless cassowary. One species of lizard, the Komodo dragon can easily be found on Komodo, located in the Nusa Tenggara lesser islands region. Besides Komodo island, this endangered species can also be found on the islands of Rinca, Padar and Flores.[46]


Mount Bromo and Semeru in East Java.

Hiking and camping in the mountains are popular adventure activities. Some mountains contain ridge rivers, offering rafting activity. Though volcanic mountains can be dangerous, they have become major tourist destinations. Several tourists have died on the slopes of Mount Rinjani, Indonesia's second highest volcano and a popular destination for climbers visiting Lombok in eastern Indonesia. Popular active volcanoes are the 2,329-metre (7,641 ft) high Mount Bromo in the East Java province with its scenic volcanic desert around the crater, the upturned boat shaped Tangkuban Perahu and the volcanic crater Kawah Putih, north and south of Bandung respectively and both with drive-in access up to the crater, the most active volcano in Java, Mount Merapi near Yogyakarta, and the legendary Krakatau with its new caldera known as anak krakatau (the child of Krakatau). Gede Pangrango volcano in West Java is also a popular hiking destination, especially among domestic hikers.

In Sumbawa, Mount Tambora with its historical massive volcanic eruption back in 1815 that produced massive caldera also had gained attention among hikers. In neighbouring island of Flores, the three-coloured volcanic crater-lake of Kelimutu is also hailed as one of Indonesia's natural wonder and had attracted visitors worldwide. Puncak Jaya in the Lorentz National Park, the highest mountain in Indonesia and one of the few mountains with ice caps at the (tropical) equator[47][48] offers the opportunity of rock climbing. In Sumatra, there are the remains of a supervolcano eruption that have created the landscape of Lake Toba close to Medan in North Sumatra.

Cultural tourism

Bali is famous for its rich culture, Hindu festivals and dances

Indonesia consists of an entire 300 ethnic groups, spread over a 1.8 million km2 area of 6,000 inhabited islands.[5] This creates a cultural diversity, further compounded by Hindu, Buddhist, Islamic and European colonialist influences. In Bali, where most of Indonesian Hindus live, cultural and religious festivals with Balinese dance-drama performances in Balinese temples are major attractions to foreign tourists.

Despite foreign influences, a diverse array of indigenous traditional cultures is still evident in Indonesia. The indigenous ethnic group of Toraja in South Sulawesi, which still has strong animistic beliefs, offers a unique cultural tradition, especially during funeral rituals. The Minangkabau ethnic group retain a unique matrilineal culture, despite being devoted Muslims. Other indigenous ethnic groups include the Asmat and Dani in Papua, the Dayak in Kalimantan and the Mentawai in Sumatra, where traditional rituals are still observed.

Cultural tourism also plays a significant part in Yogyakarta, a special province in Indonesia known as centre of classical Javanese fine art and culture.[49] The rise and fall of Buddhist, Hindu, and Islamic kingdoms in Central Java has transformed Yogyakarta into a melting pot of Indonesian culture.

Most major Indonesian cities have their state-owned museums, although most are in modest display. The most complete and comprehensive museum that displaying Indonesian culture and history spanned from prehistoric to colonial era is National Museum of Indonesia located in Jakarta.

For Indonesian and foreign visitors unable to visit all Indonesian provinces, Taman Mini Indonesia Indah in East Jakarta provides a comprehensive microcosm of Indonesian culture. Established in 1975 by Tien Suharto, this park displaying museums, separate pavilions with the collections of Indonesian architecture, clothing, dances and traditions all depicted impeccably.

Ancient temples

Stupas on upper terraces of Borobudur temple in Central Java

From the 4th century until the 15th century, Hinduism and Buddhism shaped the culture of Indonesia. Kingdoms rise and fall, such as Medang Kingdom, Srivijaya, Kediri, Singhasari and Majapahit. Along the Indonesian classical history of Hindu-Buddhist era, they produced some temples and monuments called candi. The best-preserved Buddhist shrine, which was built during the Sailendra dynasty in the 8th century, is Borobudur temple in Central Java. A giant stone mandala stepped pyramid adorned with bell-shaped stupas, richly adorned with bas-reliefs telling the stories and teachings of Buddha.

A few kilometres to the southeast is the Prambanan complex, the largest Hindu temple in Indonesia built during the second Mataram dynasty.[36] The Prambanan temple is dedicated to Trimurti; Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma, three highest gods in Hinduism. Both the Borobudur and the Prambanan temple compounds have been listed in the UNESCO World Heritage list since 1991. Both temple are the largest and the most popular, conveniently accessible from Yogyakarta, the heartland of Javanese culture. The Ramayana Javanese dance is performed routinely on the stage near Prambanan temple, provides the visitors the glimpse of Javanese classical culture.

In and around Yogyakarta, the ancient Javanese archaeology and temple enthusiast may still discover numerous ancient temples, accessible by car or motorcycle. Although not as grand and popular as Borobudur and Prambanan, these smaller temples provides glimpse of ancient culture and the intricate details of ancient Java temple architecture. Mendut and Pawon temples are located in Kedu Plain near Borobudur, while Ratu Boko, Sewu, Lumbung, Plaosan, Kalasan, and Sari are located in Prambanan Plain near Prambanan temple.

The temples of East Java dated from the era of Singhasari and Majapahit; mostly located in Trowulan archaeological site, and also scattered around Blitar and Malang. Although not as grand and popular as the temples of Central Java, the East Javanese temples is also interesting destination for candi and Indonesian ancient history enthusiast. East Javanese temples such as Wringin Lawang, Brahu, Bajang Ratu, and Candi Tikus in Trowulan archaeological site. Jawi temple near Pandaan, south of Surabaya, Penataran temple in Blitar, Kidal temple and Singhasari temple near Malang.

Most major Indonesian archaeological sites are equipped with museums; such as Samudra Raksa Museum and Karmawibhangga Museum in Borobudur, Prambanan museum in Prambanan temple compounds, and Trowulan Museum located in former Majapahit capital of Trowulan archaeological site. Some of archaeological discoveries are also displayed in municipal museums, such as Sonobudoyo Museum in Yogyakarta and Radyapustaka Museum in Surakarta, and of course the Indonesian National Museum in Jakarta.

Sumatra also home of several ancient Buddhist temples mosty linked to Srivijaya kingdom, such as Muaro Jambi in Jambi province, Muara Takus in Riau and Biaro Bahal in North Sumatra. Sumatran temples however, are not as elaborated and as spectacular as its Javanese counterpart, and subsequently less popular. The location is rural, quite far from large cities, so renting car to visit these sites is advisable since public transportation to the location is scarce.

Islamic heritage

Islam has also contributed greatly to the cultural society in Indonesia. As of 2006, 88% of Indonesia's recorded population were Muslim.[50] Islamic culture is prominent in Sumatra, and a few of the remaining sultanate palaces can be seen in Medan and Tanjung Pinang.

The Islamic heritage tourism is also popular, especially among Indonesian Muslims and Muslims from neighbouring countries such as Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei that shared common Southeast Asian Islamic heritage. The activity usually linked with Islamic ziyarat pilgrimage to historical Islamic sites, such as historical mosques and tombs of venerated Islamic figures. However, for visitors in Islamic sites, either local or foreign, Muslim or non-Muslim, the rules of conduct and dress modesty is applied, such as removing the footwear while entering mosques or makam (tombs), visitor should not entering the site wearing shorts (sarong usually lent near the entrance to cover lower torso of the visitors), and wearing kerudung (head-dress covering) for women.

In Aceh the Baiturrahman Grand Mosque and tombs of Aceh Sultanate kings is popular destination, while in Medan the Medan Great Mosque and Maimun Palace is also major Islamic heritage destination. Most of Indonesian major cities have their own historical or monumental Masjid Agung (Grand Mosque) that become city's landmark as well as tourism attraction. Istiqlal Mosque, Jakarta, the Indonesian national mosque and the largest in Southeast Asia is Jakarta's major landmark as well as tourist attraction. In Java the ziyarat pilgrimage is usually linked to historically important Islamic figures of Wali Sanga (Nine Saints), they are important because of their historic role in the Spread of Islam in Indonesia. Their tombs and mosques scaterred along Java's north coast towns, such as Demak, Kudus, Cirebon, Gresik, to Ampel in Surabaya. The 15th-century Agung Demak Mosque hailed as the first mosque established in Java. Menara Kudus Mosque is notable for incorporating Majapahit Hindu-Javanese architecture. The tomb of Sunan Gunungjati near Cirebon, is also the important ziyarat site in West Java.

Colonial heritage

Former Batavia Stadhuis now Jakarta History Museum in Kota

The heritage tourism is focussed on specific interest on Indonesian history, such as colonial architectural heritage of Dutch East Indies era in Indonesia. The colonial heritage tourism mostly attracted visitors from the Netherlands that share historical ties with Indonesia, as well as Indonesian or foreign colonial history enthusiast.

The activities among others are visiting museums, churches, forts and historical colonial buildings, as well as spend some nights in colonial heritage hotels. The popular heritage tourism attractions is Kota – the centre of old Jakarta, with its Maritime Museum, Kota Intan drawbridge, Gereja Sion, Wayang Museum, Stadhuis Batavia, Fine Art and Ceramic Museum, Toko Merah, Bank Indonesia Museum, Bank Mandiri Museum, Jakarta Kota Station, and Glodok (Jakarta Chinatown). In the old ports of Sunda Kelapa in Jakarta and Paotere in Makassar the tall masted pinisi ship still sailed. The Jakarta Cathedral with neo-gothic architecture in Central Jakarta also attracted architecture enthusiast.

Bandung historical avenue around Asia Afrika and Braga Street displays rich collections of Indies and Art deco architecture from early 20th century. Several hotels such as Savoy Homann in Bandung and Hotel Majapahit in Surabaya are colonial heritage hotels suitable for those whom interested in Dutch East Indies colonial history. The VOC forts can be found in Yogyakarta, Makassar, Bengkulu and Ambon. The colonial buildings might also be found in old town parts of Indonesian cities, such as Semarang, Surabaya, Malang, Medan, and Sawahlunto. The heritage tourism might also focussed on the era of 17th- to 19th-century royal Javanese courts of Yogyakarta Sultanate, Surakarta Sunanate and Mangkunegaran.

Urban tourism

Bandung with its boutiques, distribution stores and factory outlets is well known by locals and foreign visitors as shopping heaven in Indonesia

Urban tourism activities includes shopping, sightseeing in big cities, or enjoying modern amusement parks, resorts, spas, nightlife and entertainment. To some extent urban tourism might also involving municipal culture and heritage tourism, such as visits to city museums or parts of colonial old town. Ancol Dreamland with Dunia Fantasi theme park and Atlantis Water Adventure is Jakarta's answer to Disneyland-style amusement park and water park. Several similar theme parks also developed in other cities, such as Trans Studio Makassar and Trans Studio Bandung. The nation's capital, Jakarta, offers many places for shopping. Mal Kelapa Gading, the biggest one with 130 square kilometres (50 sq mi), Plaza Senayan, Senayan City, Grand Indonesia, EX, and Plaza Indonesia are some of the shopping malls in the city. Next to high-end shopping centres with branded products, Indonesia is also a popular destination for handicraft shopping in the region. Certain Indonesian traditional crafts such as batik, songket, ikat weaving, embroidery, wooden statue and fashion products are popular souvenirs for visitors. Indonesian textile and fashion products are known for its good value; good quality with relatively cheap and reasonable price. Bandung is a popular shopping destination for fashion products among Malaysians and Singaporeans.[51]

Another popular tourist activity is golfing, a favourite sport among the upper class Indonesians and foreigners. Some notable golf courses in Jakarta are the Cengkareng Golf Club, located in the airport complex, and Pondok Indah Golf and Country Club. Bali has many shopping centres, for instance, the Kuta shopping centre and the Galeria Nusa Dua. Nightlife of Indonesia is also popular among foreigners, especially in the big cities like Jakarta, Bandung, Surabaya, Manado, Denpasar and Medan.[52]

Gastronomy tourism

Example of Balinese cuisine

Indonesia has rich and diverse culinary traditions, and might be considered as one of the richest and the best in the world; such as rendang that recently voted as the number one dish of CNN International 'World's 50 Most Delicious Foods' list.[53] Many regional cuisines exist, often based upon indigenous culture and foreign influences.[54] Indonesian cuisine varies greatly by region and has many different influences.[54][55][56] From succulent coconut-milk and curry rich Minangkabau cuisine to Oceanian seafood meal of Papuan and Ambonese cuisine. Embarked on a journey through Indonesian cuisine is as exciting as enjoying the diversity of Indonesian culture, as some kind of dishes might have myriad variations of different recipes across archipelago. Some popular Indonesian dishes such as nasi goreng,[57] sate,[58] and soto[59] are ubiquitous in the country and have numerous regional variations. These dishes are considered as Indonesian national dishes.

Eating establishments in Indonesia are available from the modest street-side cart vendors, to the luxury fine-dining restaurants. Most of malls and shopping centres in Indonesian major cities usually have an entire floor dedicated as a food courts, where one could samples rich variety of Indonesian cuisine, and some Indonesian cities have their own signature dishes. Such as Mie Aceh, Padang's rendang, Palembang's pempek, Jakarta's soto betawi and gado-gado, Bandung's siomay and batagor, Yogyakarta's gudeg, Solo's tongseng, Semarang's lumpia, Surabaya's rawon, Madura's satay, Balinese nasi campur and babi guling, Makassar's konro, Manado's tinutuan, to Chinese Indonesian mie goreng. Some exhibitions, fairs and events often also incorporated eating experiences. Such as Jakarta Fair that offer local delicacies as well as food products from various corners of Indonesia, or Jakarta Fashion & Food Festival (JFFF) that feature food and fashion.

Sex tourism

International sex tourism and child sex tourism remains an issue, especially on the islands of Batam and Karimun and in major urban centres and tourist destinations across the country, including Bali and Riau Islands. Sex tourism is nothing new in Southeast Asia. Unlike neighbouring Thailand with its visible red light districts, Indonesia do not market their sex tourism in that way, yet prostitution is there. In Indonesia prostitution is illegal and interpreted as a "crime against decency and morality" and against the law.[60] In practice prostitution is quite widespread, tolerated and somewhat regulated, mostly illegally or underground in discotheques, massage parlours, and karaoke rooms,[61] and also visible on certain streets. It is estimated 40,000 to 70,000 Indonesian children are being exploited in prostitution within the country.[62] Prostitution is conducted by both female and male, Bali for example is notorious for its 'Kuta Cowboys', local gigolos targeting foreign female tourists.[63]

International tourist arrivals

International airports

Each of the larger Indonesian islands have at least one international airport. The biggest airport in Indonesia, Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, is located in Tangerang Regency, Banten. There are five more international airports on Java, Adisumarmo International Airport (IATA: SOC) in Solo, Central Java, Juanda International Airport (IATA: SUB) in Surabaya, East Java, Achmad Yani International Airport (IATA: SRG) in Semarang, Central Java, Husein Sastranegara International Airport (IATA: BDO) in Bandung, West Java and Adisucipto International Airport (IATA: JOG) in Yogyakarta. On Kalimantan, there is one international airport and there are two on Sumatra such as Minangkabau International Airport in Padang, West Sumatra. Bali, which is part of the Nusa Tenggara Islands, has the Ngurah Rai International Airport (IATA: DPS). Selaparang Airport (IATA: AMI) located on the west coast of Lombok was closed to flight operations on 30 September 2011. The new Lombok International Airport opened on 1 October 2011.[64][65][66] Selaparang Airport will either be redeveloped or may possibly be retained for development as Indonesia's first General Aviation hub airport. Sam Ratulangi International Airport, also known as Manado International Airport, is located in North Sulawesi, 13 kilometres northeast of Manado. The airport is named after the Minahasan educator and independence hero Sam Ratulangi. The Manado airport is also a hub to remote areas of Eastern Indonesia, including Halmahera with both Kao airport as well as Galela, Ambon, Tidore, and Irian Jaya or West Papua. There are also direct flights to Manado International Airport (IATA: MDC) from Singapore daily with Silk Air a wholly owned subsidiary of Singapore Airlines.

There are three major tourists international airports arrivals, i.e. Ngurah Rai International Airport (IATA: DPS) with 2.54 million, Soekarno-Hatta Airport (IATA: CGK) with 1.82 million and Hang Nadim Airport (IATA: BTH), also known as Hang Nadim International Airport, in Batam, Riau Islands with 1.007 million from 7.002 million international tourists recorded as arriving in Indonesia during 2010.[67]

Visa regulations

On 1 February 2004, Indonesia introduced unpopular and tighter tourist visa regulations. Although tourist visas were formerly free and valid for 60 days, visitors from certain countries were now required to purchase one of two visas on arrival (VOA): a US$15 visa valid for 10 days or a US$25 visa valid for 30 days. This was heavily protested by the tourist industry, which pointed out that this cost adds up for families and 30 days is a very limited time to travel in Indonesia with a number of remote and hard to reach locations. The countries now subject to these tighter regulations include Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, South Africa, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States.[68] On 14 July 2004, the Indonesian tourism ministry granted permission for more countries to be included on the VOA list, including Iran, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Russia, Egypt, Austria, Ireland, Qatar and Luxembourg.[68] These visa were not valid for extension of conversion into any other kind of visa and the visa holder was required to leave the country on or before the 30th day of the stay.

As of 2014 the regulations changed again and the only type of visa on arrival (VOA) available is for 30 days for a fee of US$35. This new version of the VOA may be extended later at a local Immigration office for a further once only period of up to 30 days for a fee of Rp 250,000. The previous 7-day visa on arrival was no longer available from January 2010.[69]

Currently Indonesia allows visa free entry to the citizens of 12 countries. The nationals of these countries who are going on holiday, attending conventions or engaging in similar such activities are allowed to stay in Indonesia of up to 30 days without visa. This type of visa cannot be extended, transferred or converted to any other kind of visa; nor can it be used as a working permit.[70][71] Those visitors eligible under the visa waiver program have a visa issued at the Indonesian border checkpoints with that issuance subject to the discretion of the visa officer. The visa is not for employment and is not extendable. The citizens of the following countries are eligible: Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Ecuador, Hong Kong SAR (Special Administrative Region), Macau SAR (Special Administrative Region), Malaysia, Morocco, Peru, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam. These visas cannot be extended or converted to another type of visa.[72]

The citizens of 17 countries need to obtain an approval from the immigration services head office the Direktorat Jenderal Imigrasi in Jakarta. The 17 countries are: Afghanistan, Israel, Albania, North Korea, Angola, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Cameroon, Somalia, Cuba, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Ghana, Tonga, Iraq and those effected must have a sponsor in Indonesia either a personal or company, the sponsor must go in person to the Immigration Head Office in South Jakarta (Jakarta Selatan) and must produce a photocopy of applicant's passport, a supporting letter and the applicant's photograph. When it is approved, the Immigration Head Office will sends a copy of approval letter to the applicant.[73]

Visitors to Indonesia are required to be in possession of valid passport with minimum of 6 months validity and a return or an onwards journey ticket at the time of arrival.[74]

Other visa classes are available for entry into Indonesia including;

  • Transit visa
  • Visit Visa
Tourist, Social, Business - for single and multiple journey
  • Working visa (including dependants)
  • Diplomatic service visa.
Diplomatic service passport holders of 9 nations can obtain a visa valid for a 14-day visit; Cambodia, Mongolia, Cuba, Montenegro, Croatia, People's Republic of China, India, Peru, Iran, Serbia, North Korea, Turkey, South Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Ecuador and Myanmar.[75]

Indonesian tourism campaign

The rhino was the mascot of Visit Indonesia Year, 1991

The official Indonesian government authority that is responsible for tourism sector in Indonesia is the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Indonesia. Several campaign to promote Indonesian tourism has been launched, either by government or private sectors through various medias; printed media, television and internet.

Visit Indonesia Year 1991

Learning from neighbouring countries success, such as Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia, that successfully gained benefit and exploited their tourism sector through intensive promotions, in the early 1990s the Indonesian government launched integrated efforts to promote Indonesian tourism worldwide. The first integrated campaign was coined as Visit Indonesia Year, the first year was the Visit Indonesia Year 1991.[76]

Visit Indonesia Year 2008

The Indonesian Ministry of Culture and Tourism, declared 2008 as a Visit Indonesia Year.[77] Visit Indonesia Year 2008 was officially launched on 26 December 2007.[78] The figure of Visit Indonesia Year 2008 branding took the concept of Garuda Pancasila as the Indonesian way of life. The 5 components of pancasila were represented by 5 different coloured lines and symbolised the Indonesian Unity in Diversity. The targeted number was 7 million. Visit Indonesia Year 2008 was also commemorating 100 years of Indonesia's national awakening in 1908.

Visit Indonesia Year 2009

Kecak dance performance as a tourist attraction in Bali.

Tourism Indonesia Mart & Expo (TIME) 2009 was held at Santosa Villas & Resort in Senggigi on the west coast of Lombok NTB. Entering its 16th years of conduct, TIME 2009 was organised by the Indonesian Tourism Promotion Board (ITPB) and received the support of a wide number of tourism participants in Indonesia. TIME 2009 attracted 127 Buyers from 25 countries. The top five buyers were from Korea, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, the United States, and the Netherlands. TIME 2009 also attracted a total of 250 delegates of Sellers from 97 companies of Indonesia occupying 84 booths at the Exhibition. Sellers came from 15 provinces dominated by West Nusa Tenggara, Jakarta, Bali, Central Java, and East Kalimantan as top five Sellers. The percentage of Sellers based on industry was Hotel, Resort & Spa (75%), NTO (10%), Tour Operator/Travel Agent (7%), Adventure/Activity Holiday (3%), Airline (1.5%), and Others (Hotel Management, Tourism Board, Tourism Organization & Travel Portal (8.5%). Amidst current global financial crisis, TIME 2009 booked an estimated of transaction of US$17.48 million, or increasing 15% from the previous TIME held in Makassar, South Sulawesi in 2008.[79]

Visit Indonesia Year 2010

Following the hosting on the island of Lombok in 2009 the event was again hosted in Lombok-Sumbawa on 12–15 October 2010 at Santosa Villas & Resort in Senggigi on the west coast of Lombok. Entering its 16th years, TIME is organised by the Indonesian Tourism Promotion Board (ITPB) and supported by a wide number of tourism participants in Indonesia. TIME 2010 was supported by the travel and tourism industry in Indonesia, including the Ministry of Culture & Tourism, the Provincial Government of West Nusa Tenggara, West Nusa Tenggara Culture & Tourism Office, Lombok Sumbawa Promo, Garuda Indonesia as Official Airlines, other supporting airlines, Indonesia National Air Carriers Association (INACA), Board of Airline Representatives Indonesia (BARINDO), Association of Indonesian Tours & Travel Agencies (ASITA), Indonesia Hotels and Restaurant Association (PHRI), Indonesian Conference and Convention Association (INCCA), Pacto Convex as the event organiser, supported by national and international media.[80] Lombok and Sumbawa in West Nusa Tenggara have set a target of wooing one million tourists to visit the islands by 2012.[81]

Wonderful Indonesia (since 2011)

Cultural performance such as traditional dances is one of tourism attraction.

Wonderful Indonesia has been the slogan since January 2011 of an international marketing campaign directed by the Indonesian Ministry of Culture and Tourism to promote tourism.[82] The campaign replaced the previous "Visit Indonesia Year" campaign which had been used since 1991.[83] The "Wonderful Indonesia" concept highlights Indonesia's "wonderful" nature, cultures, people, food, and value for the money.[84][85] After the campaign was launched, Indonesia reported an increase of foreign visitors; from 7,002,944 in 2010, to 7,649,731 in 2011; and 8,044,462 in 2012.[86]

Destination Management Organization

One program of Central Government is Destination Management Organization (DMO) which will involve all stake holders including the owners. The DMO target for 2010–2014 are 15 areas: Sabang, Toba, Jakarta Old City Area, Pangandaran, Borobudur, Tanjung Puting, Bromo-Tengger-Semeru, Batur Bali Area, Rinjani, Derawan Islands, Toraja, Bunaken, Wakatobi, Raja Ampat, Komodo-Kelimutu-Flores.[87]

Threats to the tourism industry

Travel Warnings
Australia[88] 2006-08-21 All Indonesia Terrorist threats
UK[89] 2006-08-21 All Indonesia Terrorist threats
Central Sulawesi, Aceh
Regional conflicts
United States[90] 2015-01-03 Surabaya Terrorist threats

The initial terrorist attack was the 2002 Bali bombing. This was a major blow to Indonesia's tourism industry. A series of travel warnings were issued by a number of countries. Subsequently, the rate of tourism in Bali decreased by 32%.[91] After this 2002 attack, the following 3 years also suffered 3 major terrorist bombings: the 2003 Marriott Hotel bombing, the 2004 Australian embassy bombing in Jakarta, and a second bombing in Bali. Fortunately in 2008, no major terrorist attack occurred since 2005, and the United States Government lifted its warning against travel to Indonesia.[92] In 2006, 227,000 Australians visited Indonesia, and in 2007, this tourist rate continued to rise with a recorded 314,000 tourists entering Indonesia.[92]

An outbreak of bird flu throughout the country has affected the numbers of foreign visitors. As of 2006, the outbreak had killed at least 46 people since 2005, making Indonesia the country with the highest death-toll from the recent epidemic.[93] However, since the disease has not yet been proven to mutate into a form that can transfer from human to human, the US embassy, for example, has not yet issued a travel warning regarding the outbreak.[94]

Another major threat to the tourism industry are sectarian and separatist conflicts in Indonesia. Papuan separatism, while Maluku and Central Sulawesi have suffered in recent years from serious sectarian conflicts. Conversely, decades of separatism-related violence in Aceh ended in 2005 with the signing of a peace agreement between the Indonesia Government and the Free Aceh Movement.[95]

In 2008, the US government lifted their travel warning on Indonesia.[96]

Guide books

Guide books and travel accounts with details of the country and people have had a long history - some books from the 19th century and early 20th century being classics with description of places that were perceived as things to see. Both private authors and government publications (such as the 1920s Come to Java books produced in Batavia by the government tourist bureau of the time) have been made each decade through to the present. There were restrictions to tourism during World War II and the mid-to-late 1960s - other than those two periods - travel accounts and guide books have been produced regularly. James Rush's and Adrian Vickers' texts mentioned below are excellent introductions to the range of writing that has been created.

The most popular Guide book on Indonesia in English from the 1970s to the 1990s was Bill Dalton's Indonesia Handbook, while from the 1990s onward, the Lonely Planet's edition Indonesia has gone to its tenth edition in 2010. Many other guide books have also been produced in English and other languages.

Additionally, major international newspapers regularly have travel sections and stories about Indonesia.[36]


See also


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Further reading

  • _ (1922). Come to Java 1922–23. Weltevreden : Official Tourist Bureau. 
  • Adams, Kathleen M. (2006). Art as Politics: Re-crafting Identities, Tourism and Power in Tana Toraja, Indonesia. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.  
  • Buckles, Guy (1996). The Dive Sites of Indonesia. New Holland.  
  • Elliot, Mark (November 2003). Indonesia. Lonely Planet.  
  • Rush, James R. (1996). Java: A Travellers' Anthology. Oxford University Press.  
  • McCarthy, John (1994). Are sweet dreams made of this? : Tourism in Bali and Eastern Indonesia. Indonesia Resources and Information Program.  
  • McPhee, Colin (2000). A House in Bali. Victor Gollancz Ltd.  
  • Miller, George (1996). To The Spice Islands And Beyond: Travels in Eastern Indonesia. Oxford University Press.  
  • Scidmore, E.R. (1986). Java: The Garden of the East. Oxford University Press.  
  • Severin, Tim (1997). The Spice Island Voyage: In Search of Wallace. Abacus.  
  • Shavit, David (2003). Bali and the tourist industry : a history, 1906–1942. Jefferson, N.C. : McFarland & Co.  
  • Vickers, Adrian (1994). Travelling to Bali: Four Hundred Years of Journeys. Oxford University Press.  

See also

External links

  • Indonesia's Official Tourism Website
  • West Java Tourism Indonesia's Official Website
  • Ministry of Culture and Tourism Republic of Indonesia
  • Indonesia's Online Travel & eCommerce
  • Aceh Tourism
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