The Head of the Tourism Office of the Riau islands, Guntur Sakti, informed the press recently that for 2015 the province has set itself the target to welcome2.5 million international visitors. While, the island of Batam alone, the main entry gate to the Riau Islands, is expected to receive 1.7 million foreign tourists,up from this year’s 1.2 million. Which means that the other Riau islands comprising Bintan, Anambas, the Karimun Islands and other smaller islands are expected to receive another 800,000 tourists, up from around 500,000 in 2014. .
To attract more tourists, Batam has put together an exciting Calendar of Events that include activities highlighting the area’s Malay culture, music and dance. There will be popular Sports events like the Yacht Regatta, the Tour de Barelang cycling race, golf tournaments, traditional boat races and more. The opening of the vast Batam ecopark this year is also expected to boost arrivals to Batam.
Up to now visitors to Batam arrive predominantly by ferries from Singapore and Malaysia, which ply several times a day.
Already a popular island resort resort for Singaporeans and Malaysians, Batam is also a favorite destination for expatriates and tourists visiting Singapore who wish to cross the border and take a peek at what Indonesia has to offer. Among these are tourists from China and Europe.
Although Batam has a large international airport, nonetheless so far, the airport receives only domestic flights, and is quite a favorite destination for Indonesian tourists who come here for shopping and make Batam a hopping off point for a short holiday in Singapore. Besides being an industrial center attracting business people, Batam is popular for its international golf courses and delicious yet reasonably priced seafood such as chilli crab, freshly caught steamed prawns, oysters, and a whole array of mouthwatering fish prepared any style.
To increase growth, the Batam local government has asked the national government to push international airlines fly to Batam direct.
Meanwhile the Riau province, with its vast seas intends to base its tourism growth through the development of marine tourism that include yachting, sailing, fishing and diving around some of its pristine waters around Anambas, and Natuna islands, increase cultural activities around Batam, Bintan and Lingga and highlight delicious cuisine across the islands.
Bintan, the largest island in this archipelago has meantime also increased events with its popular annual sports competitions like the Bintan Triathlon, MetaMan Bintan, Tour de Bintan, Bintan Marathon and Golf Championships. These attract participants not only from Bintan and surrounding islands but also from Singapore and Malaysia.
North Bintan with its luxurious, fully integrated resorts and fantastic golf courses along a vast white sand beach that faces the South China Sea, has also become a favorite destination for tourists worldwide. While West Bintan with its Trikora Beach is usually filled with fishing aficionados from Singapore. A huge shopping mall and more hotels are in construction at Lagoi Bay to attract more international and domestic tourists. While a second airport near Bintan Resort will soon open to accommodate wide-bodied aircrafts. The town of Tanjung Pinang and its historic island of Penyengat already draws thousands of visitors each year.
With these developments in the offing and to reach arrival targets, Batam, Bintan and the Riau Islands hope that the envisaged free visa facility for tourists from China, South Korea, Japan and Russia can be realized as soon as possible, as well as easier regulations to allow entry and sailing of yachts in the Indonesian seas to come into force soon as planned by the National Government.