Published on Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Visit Batam Year 2010 Preparations Underway

From  Thomas E. King in Batam

With just under a year to go before the start of Visit Batam Year 2010, a detailed calendar of events has been organised, new tourism literature has been produced and the logo for the Indonesian island’s first year-round tourism campaign is already widely recognised, said Raja Muchsin, director, Batam City Tourism and Cultural Office.

Located 24km southeast of Singapore and due east of the larger Bintan Island, Batam attracted more than one million visitors in 2008.

The top tourist generating countries were Singapore, Malaysia, Korea and Japan with 640 Australian arrivals last year ranking this country in 10th position, four notches down from the previous year.

“Our target for Visit Batam Year 2010 is 1½ million arrivals including 1000 Australians,” said Muchsin.

Raja Muchsin intends to lure more Australians to Batam through the gateway of Singapore

With many events supported by the Batam Government, the Indonesian Ministry of Tourism and the private sector, the year-long tourism promotion begins with a regatta between Singapore and Batam’s Nongsa Point Marina on January 15.

Traditional contests have been organised from March to December. A Malay art celebration will be held in April with a food festival set for June.

During July special offers will be offered to entice Singaporeans and Malaysians to visit Batam.

The Sea Eagle Boat Race will be staged in August. As well, between August – October a number of “religious fiestas” will be held.

September is a double bill month with culture and music performances and a Chinese Festival. The Indian festival of Deepavali will be observed on the twice-the-size-of-Singapore island in October.

November has four big events: the Archipelago Art Festival, an Asian Vegetarian Congress, a celebration of Malay Art and the Batam Marine Expo.

Fireworks in December will mark the end of what’s expected to be a very successful tourism year, said Muchsin.

Promotional emphasis will be directed to the nearby markets of Singapore and the southern Malaysian state of Johore as they have easy access to Batam and generate the bulk of visitors.

There are five international ferry terminals on Batam. Singapore has international ferry terminals at HarbourFront Centre – the former World Trade Centre opposite Sentosa Island - and Tanah Merah (near Changi Airport).

Each of the Singapore terminals has multiple daily services to Batam. Return fares are around $45 with the journey time ranging from 30 to 45 minutes depending on the destination on Batam.

Johore Bahru’s ZON Ferry Terminal also offers multiple daily 1½ hour ferry services to Batam.

In addition, there are air links to Batam with Garuda Indonesia connecting the island’s modern Hang Nadim International Airport to Jakarta with several daily flights. Garuda also has direct links from Batam to other major centres in the country.

While officers in Batam Tourism plans to promote the mega event through the distribution of flyers and online through its revamped website, no budget is available for Australia.

We hope “to entice Australians in Singapore to come to Batam” through our value-for-money shopping, dining, entertainment and golfing opportunities, said Muchsin.

Offering 9000 hotel rooms in all categories, Batam Island, population 700,000 is also targeting MICE visitors.

Headlining MICE events have included the Batam Marine Expo as well as the Asia Africa Conference in 2007 and an Asia Pacific meeting in 2005. The latter two events were attended by the former Prime Minister, John Howard.

The centrally located Novotel Hotel Batam attracts guests with its city resort concept

Many of the island’s larger hotels have conference centres. For instance, the Novotel Hotel Batam can cater for up to 1000 theatre style delegates in the Cendana Ballroom, said General Manager, Sigit Budiarso.

Centrally located in the business, shopping and entertainment hub of Nagoya and near the newest international ferry terminal, Harbour Bay, the 244-room property is also receiving MICE groups interested in team building.

“Such an activity is normally only possible at resorts but we have devised a number of options for our city hotel including a six storey high, 250m long flying fox,” said Budiarso.

A massive lagoon and manmade waterfall are focal points at the KTM Spa Villa

Another property pursuing the MICE market is the KTM Resort. The 90 room property which is the closest Batam property to Singapore has the advantage of being only a few minutes’ drive from the Sekupang International Ferry Terminal.

“This means that guests, both business and leisure don’t have to waste time in transit,” said Mr Anto W.S., General Manager, KTM Resort.

“Our function rooms can accommodate small workshops and seminars while the seawater lagoon and fishing decks can be used for team building exercises,” he said.

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