Bandung, West Java (ANTARA) - The West Java provincial government has asked tourism ambassadors or Smiling West Java (SWJ) Ambassadors to promote the province’s tourism in ASEAN countries.

The tourism sector is one of the drivers of West Java's economy, head of the West Java Tourism and Culture Office, Benny Bachtiar, told ANTARA here on Saturday.

The recovery in tourism has proven that West Java’s economy is ready to revive during the post-COVID-19 pandemic period, he added.

The West Java provincial government has initiated the SWJ Ambassador program to stimulate the tourism sector.

The ambassadors comprise content creators and social media activists who are expected to help increase the number of tourist visits and revive tourism in West Java.

In 2023, at least 1 thousand content creators from 27 cities and districts across West Java passed the test to hold the SWJ Ambassador title.

"We expect that their content can become a tool to promote tourism and culture in their respective regions to the public, including ASEAN citizens. This is because social media's reach knows no boundary," he said.

Meanwhile, the opening of a direct flight route from Kuala Lumpur to Kertajati has become the momentum to strengthen cooperation in tourism with ASEAN countries, particularly Malaysia, Bachtiar added.

The residents of West Java and its surrounding regions will be able to take a direct flight to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, from Kertajati West Java International Airport (BIJB), Majalengka district, starting from May 17, 2023.

"We have already conducted a familiarization trip with journalists in Malaysia to see the potential that exists in Cirebon Raya," he informed.

The office has been tasked with making West Java a must-visit destination in ASEAN once again.

The Kertajati-Kuala Lumpur route is expected to encourage more local residents and tourists to visit tourist areas around Kertajati, Bachtiar noted.

This has been supported by the plan to complete the construction of Cisumdawu Toll Road, Majalengka, which will cut travel time to Bandung to just one hour.

According to the West Java Tourism and Culture Office, 22 million domestic tourists and 1,156 international tourists visited the province in 2022.

Meanwhile, Statistics Indonesia (BPS) recorded the number of international tourist visits to Indonesia in March 2023 at 800.96 thousand.

The figure showed a rapid increase compared to the previous month and the corresponding period of 2022.

International tourists who arrived in Indonesia in March 2023 still mostly came from neighboring countries such as Malaysia (15.39 percent), Singapore (13.74 percent), and Australia (11.87 percent).

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Translator: Ajat Sudrajat, Fadhli Ruhman
Editor: Sri Haryati
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