"We are optimistic of being able to penetrate the European market," Ardiwinata, head of the Batam City Tourism Office, stated here on Friday.
During an online discussion with the Visit Indonesia Tourism Office (VITO), or Indonesian tourism officers overseas, in the Netherlands and France, it was highlighted that European tourists were known to love traveling to tropical islands, being drawn to nature tourism and local culture.
Batam has over 300 islands, with white sandy beaches and natural mangrove forests. The Batam Sea also has a profuse underwater ecosystem, replete with vibrant corals and a plethora of fish species.
Batam has a distinctive advantage as it is relatively easy to access owing to its proximity to Singapore that has flight routes to various countries in Europe.
It only takes a few hours by sea from Singapore to reach the exotic islands in Batam, thereby making it easier for travelers, according to Ardiwinata.
"Batam has everything that European tourists are looking for. Our opportunities are clearly huge," Ardiwinata stated.
However, Ardiwinata did acknowledge existing challenges in drawing European tourists, as they have tastes and preferences that differ from Asian tourists. Most of Batam’s tour agents are accustomed to catering to Asian tourists, he added.
European tourists prefer long vacations, while Asian travelers prefer short visits, he pointed out.
Moreover, European tourists generally plan their holidays well in advance, even as far as two years beforehand, while Asian tourists are more spontaneous, according to Ardiwinata.
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