Jakarta. The Tourism Ministry convened a workshop in Labuan Bajo, East Nusa Tenggara, on May 22-24 to foster innovative strategies to attract more tourists to the area.
Led by the Tourism Ministry, the "Competitiveness Index of Ten Prioritized Destinations: Labuan Bajo" workshop featured representatives of global marketing consultant Markplus, who urged the ministry to adopt tourism strategies for Labuan Bajo similar to those used to market Bali.
"We were directly met with complicated issues. Everyone was asked to observe world-class benchmarks before we could seek solutions," Ngada Tourism Agency head Todis Reo said on Tuesday (23/05).
Participants were divided into three groups, each with a focus on access, associations and amenities, respectively.
Workshop participants were asked to invent creative solutions to attract tourists to the area.
"Collaboration with other groups was encouraged to create new solutions," MarkPlus executive director Setya Riyanto said.
"That included new things that reflected competitive leads [...] to make something unique and creative," he added.
Each participant was prompted with various scenarios meant to foster innovative tourism strategies.
"Try to imagine a homestay in Karangasem, Bali. It's a village that does not even have television access or beaches, only rice paddies. Bathrooms have no roof. However, the cost of a hotel room for a single night can reach Rp 5 million [$375]," Setya said.
"What the village markets is the experience of being immersed in rice paddies. And it works."
South Korea initiated similar creative strategies to draw tourists to the country by marketing unique aspects of its culture, such as its pop music – known around the world as K-Pop – and barbecue cuisine.
"But Labuan Bajo is as great as Bali and Korea. Oscar winner Gwyneth Paltrow and seven times MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi have visited the area. We just need new strategies to market it to foreign tourists," Setya said.
"We have to create something unique to make Labuan Bajo more appealing than, say, South Korea."