Minister talks plan to hire foreign influencers to promote tourism

The government is set to recruit international influencers to attract foreign tourists to Indonesia in the hopes of reinvigorating the tourism industry, which has been deflated by the deadly coronavirus outbreak reported by the Jakarta Post today

Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Wishnutama Kusubandio said the government, which gave his ministry a budget of Rp 72 billion (US$5.2 million) for promotional purposes, would use a portion of the funds to pay influencers. The budget is part of an Rp 10.3 trillion stimulus package that was announced Tuesday.

However, he declined to divulge the exact amount allocated only for influencers as the government still needed to negotiate with them.

“We need to ask them first. Let’s say we choose to [target] the United States, we will need to find a US influencer. Or are we really going to influence the US market with an Indonesian influencer? That won’t have any impact,” he said on Wednesday.

The government has yet to announce any names so far, but the minister explained that it would look at the person’s social media platforms as a criteria in choosing the right influencers.

“We are still formulating the requirements for the influencers. It will be determined through their engagement rate and amount of views on YouTube or Instagram. Once we find the best one among the candidates, we will approach them,” Wishnutama said.

Aside from the US, he said the government would hire influencers from various nations, such as Australia and India and countries in Europe and the Middle East. Each influencer will promote Indonesia to their respective countries.

However, some international influencers may be out of the government’s budget, Wishnutama said.

“Honestly, we can’t afford BTS,” he said, referring to the popular South Korean boyband.

“We probably would need around $10 million [to hire BTS] but smaller influencers will be cheaper. We’re still currently making calculations.”

The global COVID-19 outbreak has depressed the tourism industry in Indonesia, with some tourist destinations suffering a loss of foreign tourist arrivals even though the archipelago has yet to confirm any cases to date.

Coordinating Maritime Affairs and Investment Minister Luhut Pandjaitan recently said that the industry had lost an estimated US$ 500 million due to tourists’ fears over the coronavirus.

Whisnutama said officials still had to ensure that the chosen influencers would be willing to promote Indonesia and accept the negotiated prices.

The plan would begin to be implemented in March, he added.

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