South America has become increasingly popular vacation destination for Indonesians, particularly the millennials group. Machu Picchu, Iguazu falls, Bariloche, Ushuaia, Villa la Angostura, Perito Moreno Glacier and Buenos Aires cityare definitely 'instagrammable' destinations one would always dream to visit.
But with lack of efficient connectivity, could that dream become reality?
This year Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina was selected by tripexpert.com as the best tourism destination in South America but there is not and esy wat to travel there from Indonesia.
To get to Buenos Aires, Indonesian will first have to travel to Dubai to catch another flight to San Pablo and from there flight to Buenos Aires. It will take 30 or 40 hours and cost around US$ 2,500 .
All west-coast countries in South America have provided Indonesian travellers with visa-free facility, namely Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Chile. Guyana too while Suriname provides Indonesians with visa-on-arrival scheme. Argentina, Brazil, Trinidad & Tobago and Venezuela however have not.
Ivan Ronaldo, who strongly voices out the importance of visa-free facility for Indonesian citizens through the movement of 'BebasVisaID', revoices such issue to Antara. "Better connectivity would mean better flight connection and better visa-waiver agreement. Increasing people-to-people contact as well as business and trade will result best if both criterias are fulfilled".
"I had the privilege to communicate directly to Mr. Diego Berazategui, who is the Chairman of Argentine Chamber of Commerce in Australia. I strongly voiced out the importance of visa-free facility from the Argentine Government to Indonesian travellers, to better connect the two countries. Many of my fellows regretfully had to cancel their planned Argentine adventure because of visa issue. Some of them were denied visas even after hard work of gathering the necessary documents. Others dropped their plan to visit Argentina as they were not able to apply for the visa due to logistic issues. Buenos Aires could become the hub between Indonesia and South America if visa waiver is bilateral", said Ronaldo.
There is actually a plan to connect Indonesia to South America, through Perth-Buenos Aires with a transpolar flight.
To this date, Garuda Indonesia flies 5 times weekly from CGK to Perth. While Norwegian Airlines is expected to connect Buenos Aires with Perth. It might be ideal for the two flights to intertwine to increase people-to-people contact, and might directly blossom the business and trade relationship already established.
Relationship between Indonesia and Argentina goes all the way back when the diplomatic relation was established in 1956. Both countries are members of Group of 77, the G-20 major economies, the G20 developing nations, and Forum of East Asia-Latin America Cooperation.
In 2016, according to Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia, there were 8,408 Argentines visited Indonesia while there were no more than 1,000 Indonesians visited Argentina.
Government of Indonesia has officially waived visa requirement for Argentines wishing to travel to Indonesia since 2016. Even prior to that, visa-on-arrival was offered for Argentines for 35 USD, valid for 30 days.
Mr. Berazategui, Chairman of Argentine Chamber of Commerce in Austria also provides his explanation with regards to the planned connectivity.
"The Buenos Aires-Perth flight will be viable if Perth can distribute the Argentine travellers to Asia efficiently. There are already 50,000 Argentines travelling to South East Asia via Europe or Dubai and via Perth they will save up to 10 hours.
With Perth as a hub, Indonesia will present as the first destination in South East Asia, most likely the Argentine tourists will spend few days in Perth and later travel to Bali to start their South East Asia adventure. This means that the bigger portion of the Argentines will now visit Indonesia instead of doing Dubai – Thailand – Vietnam and back. This could be great opportunity for Indonesian tourism industry as well.
We could increase the number of Argentine tourists’ arrival in Indonesia way more than the already 8,000 in 2016. Perhaps double, or even triple. We also aim to carry 10,000 Indonesian travellers to Argentina", said Mr. Berazategui.
The Argentine Chamber of Commerce in Australia is also approaching the Argentine Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as Ministry of Tourism to further look into possibility of waiving visa requirement for Indonesian tourists. “In our view this is a necessary change to increase transit in and make Buenos Aires – Perth sustainable” added Mr Berazategui.
Buenos Aires is very well connected to the rest of Latin America therefore starting the South American adventure there is a good idea.
"On top of the obvious benefits in tourism for Argentina and Indonesia, a route connecting Indonesia and Argentina via Perth will significantly reduce the travel time and cost. A 20-hour flights routing Indonesia-Perth-Buenos Aires will open several new opportunities in food trading, sports and culture, entertainment. I’m sure we will have Indonesians in Argentina learning Spanish and/or doing soccer clinics in Boca Junior ", explained Mr. Berazategui further.
By Ivan Ronaldo - co-founder, Bebasvisa.id