MTF is an international event organized to promote the cultural and tourism potential of East Java, in particular, and Indonesia, in general.
This annual event, in its 17th edition, has always been a grand success and has been attended by several participants from East Java and other provinces, as well as overseas.
As the main program of MTF 2016, the travel exchange event is an annual gathering that brings together buyers and sellers to discuss innovations, trends, and developments in the tourism industry and to facilitate joint policy formulations to accelerate the growth of tourism in East Java.
The business meeting during the MTF will offer buyers and sellers a platform to conduct transactions and to gain insights on the offered products.
The buyers from different countries attending the MTF will also be invited to be part of a tour to explore and enjoy the tourist destinations in East Java.
"Congratulations and good luck for organizing the MTF 2016. Through this event, we hope that the tourist destinations in East Java would gain greater popularity at home and abroad," Tourism Minister Arief Yahya remarked in his speech to open the fair in Surabaya on Thursday night.
He expressed hope that the success of MTF and the increase in travel exchange transactions will be beneficial for the buyers and sellers and will help to develop tourism in East Java and Indonesia.
According to the tourism minister, the MTF is a testament to the fact that the tourism sector in East Java will never decline but continue to develop following an increase in the number of tourist destinations in every district in the province.
Looking ahead, Yahya remarked that East Java was expected to be the fourth-major tourism area in Indonesia after Bali, Jakarta, and Riau Islands.
"As mentioned by East Java Governor Soekarwo, the province should showcase to the world that it has unique and scenic tourist destinations," the minister noted.
On the occasion, the tourism minister acknowledged the lack of adequate tourism infrastructure in East Java and the need for improvement.
"I have called a meeting with the governor and sought details on the construction of access roads to avoid traffic jams to tourist attractions and on improving the means of land, sea and air transport to facilitate ease of travel for tourists keen on visiting the provinces tourism destinations," he noted.
In the meantime, Governor Soekarwo expressed hope that the MTF 2016 would be able to serve as a platform to offer information to people on the various tourist destinations in the province.
"This event is an arena to promote tourism in Indonesia, especially in East Java, in the eyes of the world as the province has several tourist attractions in every district," Governor Soekarwo affirmed.
The MTF 2016 is themed "Marine Tourism" in an effort to develop the marine-based tourist attractions in East Java.
Several other supporting activities, including exhibitions and tourism exchanges, traditional art performances, competitions, and local sightseeing trips, have been organized.
The governor said the event was part of the efforts of the East Java Government to develop the diverse tourist attractions that can further contribute to the tourism sector and create business opportunities for the people.
Further, Yahya remarked that the Bromo Tengger Semeru (BTS) Authority Board, established to manage the BTS tourism region in East Java, will start work in July 2016 as part of the efforts to develop the destination.
"The BTS Authority Board is the representative of the central government, which will focus on making the BTS region an attractive tourist destination," Yahya stated.
According to the minister, the BTS Authority Board should manage the tourism destination to avoid any conflict of management with other supervisory bodies.
"The tourism sector in Indonesia has yet to develop optimally as there are several agencies involved in the management of a tourist destination, and this is the case everywhere, including in the BTS region. We have agreed that one tourist destination should be managed by only one supervisory agency, such as an authority board," Yahya elaborated.
With the BTS Authority Board becoming operational, the tourism minister stated that the community or parties keen on providing suggestions and feedback can coordinate with the board as the representative of all ministers.
Yahya revealed that the board will later have two functioning bodies: a steering committee chaired by the coordinating minister for maritime affairs and an implementing agency chaired by the tourism minister.
President Joko Widodo has named the BTS region as one of the ten most attractive tourist destinations.
As a reflection of its commitment to ensure development, the central government will disburse funds worth some Rp10 trillion, which will be managed by the BTS Authority Board.
"The funds will not just be utilized for maintaining the main location but also for developing infrastructure such as access roads, connecting roads or bridges, lodging, ports, and other supporting infrastructure," Yahya said.
On the other hand, the East Java provincial government is also improving the capacity of the local human resources through the implementation of an array of programs, including offering technical assistance during training to ensure that they gain a better understanding and are ready to help develop the BTS tourist destination.