The confidence of the hospitality sector in Indonesia seems to be getting stronger as the archipelago relaxes arrival restrictions. As hotly anticipated properties now announce opening dates, Indonesia is clearly emerging as a key market in Southeast Asia's hospitality ecosystem.
Quarantine was never the answer for travel to kickstart and Indonesia clearly understands that now — and that is emboldening hotel chains like Marriott, Banyan Tree and Swiss-Belhotel, all set with new properties scheduled to open.
After a series of flip-flops around confounding arrival rules, the archipelago dropped all quarantine requirements last month.
What’s more, the Indonesian government Tuesday dropped on-arrival tests and declared that foreigners from nine ASEAN countries would be able to enter the country without a visa, while special visa on arrival would be granted to foreigners from 43 countries, including U.S., UK, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, France, UAE and India.
From January to December 2021, the number of international visitor arrivals was 1.56 million, a decrease of 61 percent over the same period in 2020.
Foreign tourist arrivals in Indonesia jumped to 185,000 in February 2022, boosted by further easing of restrictions. The number of arrivals by air jumped 97 percent. From January to February 2022, the number of foreign tourist visits to Indonesia reached 336,000.
The room occupancy rate for star hotels have started to show an increase in early 2022 even though it is yet to recover to 2019 levels.
With tourists from China — the country’s second largest inbound market — and Russia unlikely to return anytime soon, Indonesia is making sure that it doesn’t lose out to other Southeast Asian destinations in the reopening race.
While the Covid-19 pandemic has had a massive impact on the hospitality and accommodation market, and understandably so due to the various social and border restrictions, the crisis also led to the postponement of several hospitality projects.
Indonesia is now looking past survival and recovery to help this accommodation market grow.
According to Technavio, a technology research and advisory company, the tourism and hotel market share in Indonesia is expected to increase by $22 billion from 2021 to 2026, and the market’s growth momentum will accelerate at a compound annual growth rate of 12 percent.
Tophotel Projects notes that 21 openings are scheduled for 2022, bringing with it 3,173 additional keys, while 2023 has 13 launches in the pipeline, following which 2024 and beyond will witness the addition of 61 properties.
Some of the highly-anticipated openings this year include the launch of the Māua brand in Indonesia by Swiss-Belhotel in the second quarter. Banyan Tree’s inaugural property of Banyan Tree Escape — Buahan, A Banyan Tree Escape, is also scheduled over the coming months.
Kimpton will also be making its long-awaited debut in Indonesia in late second quarter with the launch of the all-villa Kimpton Naranta Bali. Another highly-anticipated opening in mid-2022 is Anantara Ubud an 85-key resort in Bali. In early 2023, the 200-key Hotel Indigo Jakarta Pantai Indah Kapuk will open its doors in Indonesia’s capital.
With a total of 60 properties in Indonesia, 24 of which are in Bali, Marriott has now added Aloft Bali Kuta to its portfolio, making it the second Aloft hotel and the 25th Marriott property in Bali, said Bart Buiring, chief sales and marketing officer for Asia Pacific at Marriott International.
Buiring, who recently visited Bali, Labuan Bajo and Jakarta, was impressed at how travel is now seamless within the country. “Marriott is very optimistic about its prospects in Indonesia,” he said.
Optimism sure seems to be the catchphrase as HVS notes that Indonesia will witness an addition of 245 hotels with approximately 42,358 keys between 2021 and 2025.
Even as hopes for a return to normalcy have been set back several times with the emergence of variants — be it Delta or Omicron, Booking.com notes a surge in interest from inbound travelers, with Bali being one of the most popular destinations.
“In terms of accommodations, traditional hotels remain a top traveler preference, followed by a growing appetite for resorts and villas,” said Nuno Guerreiro, regional director, South Asia-Pacific and chains at Booking.com.
Along with resorts, villas and traditional hotels, the affordable accommodation units are also finding their place in Indonesia’s hospitality growth chart.
RedDoorz, the technology-driven hotel management and booking platform, launched Urbanview, an affordable yet smart accommodation solution in Indonesia last month. With border restrictions starting to lift within the region, Amit Saberwal, founder and CEO of RedDoorz, said that they are confident of not just recovery to pre-pandemic levels, but further growth post-pandemic.
The pent-up demand for travel is certain to drive growth for this market, said Saberwal. Calling domestic tourism a valuable lifeline for the sector, he added, “Research shows that more than half of travellers across the Asia-Pacific intend to spend more on domestic tourism. For Indonesia specifically, insights provided by Google have shown a 40 percent spike in domestic tourism between August and September 2021, as compared to the same period last year.”
Following Indonesia’s announcement to re-open its borders to international travelers, digital travel platform Agoda also reported a surge in searches for Bali from neighbouring markets. Bali ranked the top search destination in Indonesia, while the entire country ranked third as a destination in Asia, following closely behind Thailand and Philippines.
Agoda’s data shows searches from Bali’s top five international origins markets — Australia, Singapore, U.S., UK, and South Korea, with the highest search increase from Australia (220 percent) and Singapore (200 percent).
Booking.com expects travel to continue its trajectory of recovery in the longer term, while governments across the world ensure that borders remain open and vaccine access is encouraged.
“Travel recovery across Asia will also be dependent on ease of travel intra-regionally. The more simple immigration and public health and safety processes and protocols are — including requirements concerning Covid tests, quarantine requirements, visa on arrival — the more this will benefit nations in terms of traveler intent and the destinations they choose to travel to,” said Gurreiro.
Indonesia seems to have ticked all those boxes just in time.
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Photo credit: Indonesia will be home to some of the most-anticipated hotel openings in 2022. Marriott