The programme, which can contain between three and five flight segments, include the Explore Indonesia Pass, Underwater Pass, Heritage Pass and Adventure Pass.
Dony Widojoko, Garuda Indonesia vice president greater Jakarta region, said: “Working together with our sister company, Garuda Indonesia Holidays, we have created options for travellers, for example, Denpasar-Lombok-Labuan Bajo for the Underwater Pass; the heritage sites of Jogjakarta, Semarang, Surabaya, Bandung, Padang and Makassar; and adventurous places like Lombok, Labuan Bajo, Surabaya and Medan.”
The packages are available for inbound tourists only and must be combined with return international tickets on Garuda.
They are primarily targeted at the Singapore, Malaysia, China, Japan and Australia markets. Widojoko said: “This is in line with the Ministry of Tourism’s target markets for the year.”
A Jakarta-Denpasar-Labuan Bajo-Denpasar-Jakarta would cost US$660, but only US$276 with the pass, he said. Combining Jakarta-Denpasar-Surabaya-Semarang-Jakarta flight segments would cost US$531, but with the pass would only cost US$231, he said.
Asian travel agency chiefs welcome the pass. Lesley Tan, business development manager of MISA Travel, said: “Singaporeans are usually looking for new destinations and products, such as heritage and adventure, so the programme has the potential to work if it is well promoted.” Garuda needs to get the message across to the public to create demand, she said.
Buyers and Indonesian suppliers interviewed appreciated the airline’s initiative but regretted the lack of communications and industry engagement on it. Most have not heard of the pass.
Herdy Sayoga, board member of the Badung Regency (Bali) Tourism Promotion Board, said: “It is a good idea for the airline to come up with such a product, but why didn’t it involve us? We do not even know about it. Together, we can come up with packages and promote the product together.”
Stevan Servin, chairman of Lombok Hotel Association, said the airline should first have a consistent presence in the market and, second, good communications and cooperation with the industry.
“Garuda (last year) had five flights between Bali and Lombok with high 80s load factor but this has become two flights a day today.
“It reduced the capacity of Makassar-Lombok flights by changing the aircraft from Bombardier 100 to ATR 72 without any explanation. How can we promote (the destination) if they keep changing their schedule and capacity? If hotels are doing promotions on Makassar, for example, their (efforts) would be useless if seats are suddenly not available.”
Aileen Collins, personal travel manager Asia Travel Expert for TravelManagers Australia, said Australian travellers would not pick up such offers without an understanding of what the destinations had to offer. She urged Indonesia to increase Aussie travellers’ awareness of the destinations first. – Mimi Hudoyo, TTG reporting from ITB Asia, Singapore