Ha Long, Vietnam (ANTARA News) - Tourism Minister Arief Yahya has reiterated his determination to make Singapore a transportation and tourism hub for Indonesian tourism as part of the efforts to boost tourist arrivals in the country.

The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) positively responded to the plan during the ASEAN Tourism Forum 2019 held in Ha Long, Vietnam, on Thursday, Jan 17, Yahya stated.

"In addition, (we discussed) joint development and promotion of cruise liners and investment in 10 New Balis or 10 Priority Destinations that President Jokowi has designated," he remarked.

On the occasion, he also highlighted the successful programs of the so-called Hot Deals held at the end of 2018 in the province of Riau Islands, particularly Batam and Bintan, where 700 thousand packages have been sold within three months. The program will be continued in 2019, with a target of one million packages.

"Hot Deals has made Singapore a potential market, particularly on weekdays, from Monday to Thursday, through a program offering 60 percent discount to those visiting Batam and Bintan," he pointed out.

He said the program targets not only tourists from Singapore but also Chinese and Indian travelers, who plan to visit Singapore and later Batam and Bintan, which are about a 45-minute boat ride from Singapore.

"Of course, the technical cooperation will involve travel agents and tour operators in Singapore. We hope STB would support it," he stated.

Meanwhile, Keith Tan Kean, in the capacity as STB chief executive, accompanied by Chang Chee Pey, assistant chief executive for international group STB; Christina Chan, assistant director for international relations of STB; and Jazz Lou, the STB staff, positively welcomed the tourism minister`s aspiration.

Kean noted that Lake Toba in North Sumatra Province and Belitung in Bangka Belitung Province are potential destinations largely due to the presence of direct flights from Singapore. Batam-Bintan and Belitung are 45 minutes from Singapore, respectively by ferry boat and flight.

"We believe they will grow as potential destinations," Kean added.

Reporting by Subagyo
Editing by Suharto

Reporter: Antara
Editor: Azizah Fitriyanti
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