By: Muhammad Arif – Account Manager of Fortune PR
Many countries today, including Indonesia, have developed local festivals as a strategic initiative to attract tourists and to strengthen their national brand. As a part of the “Wonderful Indonesia” program, Indonesia hosted the two-day Tulamben Festival in Bali last July 2017.
Unique local festivals have become an increasingly significant component of tourist destination branding activities. Through the Ministry of Tourism, the Indonesian government saw a huge opportunity in Tulamben, an area in Bali promote their nation globally.
The Tulamben region is known for its beautiful beach that features corals instead of white or black sand, and also the underwater Coral Garden. Tulamben also features historical sites such as the ruins of United States cargo ship called USAT Liberty, which lies about 100 feet or 30 meters under the sea. The 50-meter-long ship sank in 1942 and is now a home to plenty of colorful fish and coral reefs.
According to The Jakarta Globe, the festival attracted 18,640 foreign and 200 domestic tourists by featuring a variety of local competitions, exhibitions, and art and culture parade. The Tulamben Festival features jukung race that challenges fishermen to showcase their skills in handling the traditional wooden boat using wind power, exhibitions of local handicrafts, food stalls serving Balinese traditional cuisines, and Balinese arts festival showcasing five local art studios.
For the tourist, this festival can be seen as an entertainment event. But on the other hand, it was also seen as an effort to establish tight cooperation among various stakeholders to develop tourism and creative economy in Tulamben. By developing local festivals as a strategic initiative for destination branding, Indonesia can be known globally and acquire its Unique Selling Proposition.
The Journal of Quality Assurance in Hospitality and Tourism define destination branding as the process used to develop unique identity and personality that is different from all competitive destinations. How Indonesia is blessed with a rich variety of natural and cultural charms that attracted travelers worldwide has turned tourism to a very promising industry. The Tulamben Festival was indeed one of Indonesian government good effort in engaging domestic and foreign tourist to travel to Indonesia.
Lastly, a destination branding strategy must consistently convey the expectation of a memorable travel experience that is uniquely associated with the destination, it must serve to consolidate and reinforce the emotional connection between the visitor and the destination, and must positively reinforce what makes the destination different from others. A successful destination branding program will make tourist wanting to come back, enthusiastically referring the destination to friends and family, and promoting it on their social media channels.