Mountain tourism in Indonesia reaches new heights

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Mountain tourism in Indonesia has shown advancement in demand post-lockdown, observe Indonesian industry players.

Speaking at the Indonesia Mountain Tourism Conference in Jakarta recently, Vicky Gosal, owner and managing director of Karash Adventure, said: “Tourism was projected to be the last to recover after the pandemic, but to our surprise, (demand for mountain climbing) was suddenly booming around October and November last year although restrictions on community movements had not been revoked completely.”

Indonesia has great potential to develop mountain tours; Mount Semeru in East Java, pictured

That boom has continued throughout 2023, shared Vicky, and its business is moving fast at present.

“The quota for hiking in (popular) Mount Rinjani and Mount Merbabu are fully booked three weeks before the D-day,” he said.

Nur Hidajat, managing director of Warna Indonesia Tour & Travel, shared that there was pent-up demand for mountain tourism and that business is booming this year with incoming markets from Canada, France, Germany, Malaysia, and the US.

“Travellers could not come in 2020 and 2021 – they started to come last year but this year my company alone has received many (trip) series, including from Poland,” he said.

Vicky said mountain climbing is trending among Indonesians, with many opting for one- to two-day programmes due to a preference for short trips and limited budgets.

He noted: “Small mountains with short climbs such as Mount Kencana, Ciung and Kerenceng are suddenly more popular because they are (more accessible) for such travellers.”

He pointed out that clients now “want comfortable beds, tables, chairs, and tents”, a stark change from five years ago, adding that both domestic and international travellers also seek local experiences and are more conscious about their diets as well.

With 400 mountains (of which 29 are large ones), 129 active volcanoes, and one belonging to WorldSeven Summit, Indonesia has great potential to develop mountain tours.

In the meantime, the Indonesian Association of Mountain Guides, in preparation for rebound, had created the Indonesia Volcanic Travel Pattern during the pandemic – it includes eight mountains stretching from Yogyakarta and Central Java to Sumbawa in East Nusa Tenggara.

Volcano guide specialist, Dasirun, said the programmes could be divided into two patterns. First is linear, which comprises several mountains on an island – like Merapi, Kelud, Bromo and Semeru – across Java with additional visits to iconic sites like Borobudur temple and Yogyakarta Sutanate Palace.

The other is territorial and will focus on one mountain, such as Merapi in Yogyakarta as the main highlight, with visits to sites with historic or philosophic connections to it, like the Volcano Museum, the Sultanate Palace, the Sultanate Palace, and the South Seas.

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