"We heard a lot about Banyuwangi tourism with its various festivals. I see these as a worthy potential to be offered in Belgium in particular, and Europe in general," Indonesian Embassy Trade Attache in Brussels, Meri Astrid Indriasari, said after meeting Banyuwangi District Head Abdullah Azwar Anas here Sunday.
Officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs through the Indonesian Embassy in Brussels, Belgium, have visited Banyuwangi to discuss the tourism marketing plans.
Astrid said Banyuwangi which prioritizes its cultural values and natural panorama, would be an attraction for European tourists.
"Tourists from Europe like art and culture, and also natural beauty. Banyuwangi presents all of those attractions, including its agricultural tourism," Indonesian Embassy Attach? in Brussels, Wahidah Maghriby added.
She noted that at least there were two Banyuwangi`s tourism attractions targeted by the Indonesian Embassy in Brussels to be marketed in Europe, namely, traditional Gandrung Dance and Ijen Crater.
"Brussels is a strategic marketing place. The city is the center of the European Union, so it is a reference for all European countries. Belgium`s gross domestic product is very high, and the economy of the people is very good. Therefore, they are very prospectus to be targeted," she said.
Wahidah added that the Indonesian Embassy in Brussels has established a close synergy with the Pairi Daiza management, a leading tourist attraction in Belgium which is visited by at least 1,000,000 people every year.
In addition, d`Indonesia Festival is also regularly held in Belgium. Banyuwangi is an object to be promoted in the country.
The Indonesian Embassy in Brussels also has the House of Indonesia, which is a permanent storefront for Indonesian products, including the superior products of Banyuwangi, such as chocolate, coffee, organic agricultural products, and fisheries.
Azwar Anas welcomed the tourism marketing efforts to Europe. Previously, facilitated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Tourism, Banyuwangi was promoted to the United States, England, and Russia during the 2018 World Cup in Moscow.
"Europe is indeed a good market. So far, of around 100,000 foreign tourists visiting Banyuwangi, more than half visited Ijen Crater, and they were mostly from European countries, especially France," Anas said.
Data from the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) showed that in 2017 the number of European tourists traveling to Indonesia reached around 1.75 million.
"We want to get only five percent of that number, or around 87,000 tourists. This promotion to Belgium is a way to achieve that target. Thank you for the extraordinary support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in promoting local tourism potentials to go global," Anas said.
European tourists, Anas added, have their own advantages. Based on a research by the Tourism Ministry, European tourists spend US$1,538 per tourist per visit in average, surpassing Chinese tourists who spend about US$1,019 per traveler per visit.
"With large spending, the economic effects to the locals are also large," he said.
Reporting by Masuki M Astro
Editing by Libertina Widya Ambari, Fardah Assegaf