By APD writer Maverick
JAKARTA, June 17 (APD) -- Indonesia is keen to explore further potentialities from spiritual-related tourism, highly expected to contribute the nation’s efforts in complying with targets already set in tourism sector which has been set as the nation’s core industry at present.
Among the ways to address the aim was by optimizing the presence of mosques for tourism sector in the Muslim-majority country. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) document was just signed by Chairman of Indonesian Mosque Council Jusuf Kalla and Tourism Minister Arief Yahya in doing so.
Having the world’s largest Muslim population, Indonesia has more than 850,000 mosques across the country of which each of it has unique historical background, unique architecture, has been catered by domestic Muslim pilgrims for its uniqueness.
Arief said the aim to explore spiritual tourism for mosque visit would be submitted in the ministry’s halal tour projects, adding that that religious-themed tourism has been included in the ministry’s prioritized sector.
“Indonesia raked 12 awards from a total of 16 ones in World Halal Tourism Award (WHTA) held in Abu Dhabi late last year, making us highly commended by international community in halal tour,” the minister said in the document signing ceremony in the ministry’s premises recently.
Through orchestrated efforts in developing halal tour in the country, government has set target to top the Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) by 2019 with foreign Muslim travelers visiting the nation at 5 million ones, or 25 percent from 20 million foreign visitors targeted by government in that year, the minister said.
Indonesia’s GMTI was ranked no. 4 in 2015 with 2 million foreign Muslim visitors.
In the initial period, around 100 mosques across the nation with unique characters and backgrounds would be submitted in the program.
Meanwhile, in another gesture to improve the nation’s connectivity which would eventually help boost tourism sector, Indonesia opened a new airport in city of Banyuwangi, East Java province.
The Blimbingsari airport, codenamed BWX, would supply more visitors to several regencies around Banyuwangi and western part of Bali that have several pristine beaches, the minister said.
“Direct flights from Jakarta would boost tourism in those areas,” the minister said to inaugurate direct flight of NAM Air from the capital city to Banyuwangi on Friday.
Indonesia is now in herculean efforts to develop its tourism sector with 15 million foreign visitors targeted to be received this year. The sector is targeted to earn more than 24 billion U.S. dollars by 2019.
(ASIA PACIFIC DAILY)
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