There is a significant increase in the use of both social media and the general development of new technology worldwide today. Now, the tourism industry has changed dramatically with the overwhelming appearance of social media platforms creating new opportunities to progress and attract the customer through facilitated communication and empowered guest engagement.
Levinson and Gibson in their book “Guerrilla Social Media Marketing” (2010) define social media from a marketer point of view as “a set of tools that are free or nearly free and allow marketers and the community to create content and meaningful conversation online”. Some examples of social media are “blogs, photo-sharing sites, video-sharing sites, social networks, audio podcasts, Internet radio, mobile social sharing and communication tools”.
The use of Internet and other information communication technologies leads to a new way of promoting tourism. Social media, as one of the most powerful online networking tools, has been integrated into a part of social and economic life in the real world. Social media has emerged as the new way in which people can connect socially, by integrating information and communication technology (such as mobile and web-based technologies), social interaction, and the construction of words, pictures, videos and audio. It’s actually more than a new way to communicate, but refers to an entire online environment built on people’s contributions and interactions.
Indonesia started using social media in tourism destination campaign since 5 years ago. Some new destinations beyond Bali has been introduced to attract tourists to visit those places. However, the new campaign strategy to promote new tourist destinations needs to be strengthened to reach bigger target of tourist numbers. How can the social media be optimized to promote tourism in Indonesia?
The number of foreign tourist arrivals in Indonesia reached 5.29 million in the first half of 2016, increasing 5.9 percent (y/y) from the same period one year earlier. But the figures implies that only 44 percent of the government’s full-year target has been achieved so far. Indonesia’s Tourism Ministry targets to welcome a total of 12 million foreign visitors in 2016. Meanwhile, according to the latest data from Indonesia’s Statistics Agency (BPS), foreign visitor arrivals declined in June 2016, both on a monthly and annual basis.
Social Media Effectiveness
Shared information’s on social media sites are recognized as an important information source that may help tourists’ travel plan or even eventually influence potential travellers’ travel decision-making. The engagement of social media has fundamentally changed the way individuals plan and consume travel. Nowadays, social media tools are used throughout the travel planning process and after holidays for experience sharing. Influence from social media, particularly in reputational areas, will strongly affect final decisions in holiday plans.
For Indonesia, the official campaign to promote tourism in Indonesia clearly has set a new standard to bring visitors in “Wonderful Indonesia”. Through a series of very high quality videos on the different parts of the archipelago, it produces means to attract tourists and facilitate the communication of travel agencies and tourism professionals. Ministry of Tourism effectively uses the “Wonderful Indonesia” communication campaign as a tool to promote tourism through various channels, media, advertising and Internet.
The use of social media and other digital platforms for tourism promotional campaigns will help to increase the numbers of foreign tourists by six to seven percent this year. Releasing online advertisements and stepping up promotional campaigns on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social media sites had improved global access to Indonesian tourism information. The advantages of digital campaigns were that visitor data is traceable, through visitor counts on blogs for example, meaning that it is easier for the ministry to ascertain whether an online campaign or online advertisements had been effective.
Around 70 percent of promotional tourism campaigns were conducted over social media: some of which were carried out by social media figures to boost Indonesian tourism’s digital profile. But aside from technological integration and the use of digital platforms such as social media, recent visa waiving policies by the government regarding 90 countries as well as the easing of cruise ship access into Indonesian ports have also helped.
The Indonesian tourism industry’s readiness would depend on the information technology as a promotion tool, the infrastructures, and the human resources. In order to improve people’s awareness of tourism, the approach to local figures and young generation who know how to utilize information technology are needed.
As part of common efforts to further encourage the use of digital media in tourism promotion, Government could encourage the nationwide creation of events to educate the public and encourage local developers to continue create and collaborate. In this events which should be held regularly, the organizer could involve young generation on how to use social media for other purposes.
Government could also start to request all government employees to have social media account and actively to use it. This practice has been done in India where almost all government staff, including President and PM, have used social media as a part of public transparency and to promote country to outside of India. In Indonesia, social media users among top Government official as well as politicians are still low, although Indonesia is in top position of Tweeter user in the world. Social media is a golden opportunity for Indonesia, not only as a vehicle for establishing public transparency but also a medium for promoting Indonesia in all aspects including tourism.
Jakarta, 7 October 2016
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