The year has hit its mid-point but Indonesia has yet to see off its two biggest events of the year – the 2018 Asian Games and the Annual Meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank Group.
The former will bring in something upwards of 45,000 delegates and athletes (excluding spectators) in Jakarta and Palembang and the latter will see over 15,000 delegates take over Bali.
One of the reasons Indonesia remains an attractive destination for business events is its relatively cheap costs compared to competitors in the ASEAN region like Singapore and Bangkok.
“For the Asian Games, for example, room rates including tax and service, breakfast, and laundry is less than US$50 a night,” said Indra B. Sukirno, executive director and CEO for Jakarta Convention & Exhibition Bureau, at DestinASEANplus2018.
While infrastructure and technology are becoming more sophisticated in Jakarta, one issue that seems far from being solved is its road traffic. “We simply cannot avoid this problem,” said Sukirno. “We can hardly have more than two appointments in a day because you simply cannot move with all the traffic.”
However, with the opening of Indonesia Convention Exhibiton in the self-contained town of BSD Tangerang, delegates have the option of putting up in greater Jakarta during their event without traveling in an out of traffic in the central business district. Alam Sutera in the Banten province – also in greater Jakarta – will look to build conference facilities that will be ready by December 2019.
Additionally, the MRT rail project – slated to be completed in 2019 – will aim to alleviate road congestion and ferry delegates between Tangerang and Jakarta in under 30 mins. The same journey now can take more than an hour by car.
Something else that needs to be fixed is the ministerial mindset of equating business events to tourism. Sukirno said that the government is fixated on visitor numbers rather than trade value of events.
For instance, the 6000,000 Australian tourists who enter Indonesia – primarily based in Bali – who spend an average of US$1,000 each are prioritised over smaller delegate groups who spend US2,500 each.
Sukirno hopes that with more awareness about the value of the industry, Indonesia will position itself as a valuable player in the region, especially for international events.
"We’re always trying to attend international expos and trade shows to bring more meetings here,” said Wini Yoniton, executive director for Indonesia Exhibition Companies Association (IECA). “If an association has a rep in Jakarta, we want to try and get them to hold their annual meeting here."