A growing middle class in Indonesia and a rising interest for Norway presents great opportunities for the Norwegian tourism sector. (Photo: Alex Conu/Visitnorway.com)
Indonesia has experienced an adventurous economical growth over the past few years, and is
expected to continue towards becoming one of the world´s ten largest economies. This
development results in a wealthier and more urbanized population, but also in a larger gap
between rich and poor.
Growing middle class
Among the 260 million citizens of Indonesia, about 17 percent belong to
what is classified as the upper middle class (Lim, Jaafar, Walters, Wu & Wastuwidyaningtyas 2016). This group, which is almost the size of Spain´s population, is rapidly growing to become a valuable target for the Norwegian tourism sector.
With more than 17 000 diversified islands, Indonesia is most definitively a vibrant tourism attraction itself, which is probably why more and more favor vacation in their own country.
Considering Indonesia´s many natural, cultural and historical treasures, one might wonder why a small country in the north shows to be of increasing interest for the population of the world´s largest archipelago. Is cold the new hot? Or is it spectacular and rare adventures that these Indonesian travelers seek?
More visas are issued
The upper middle class of China has previously ruled the arena of Asian tourism in Norway.
Even though they are still in the lead, an increasing amount of people from other parts of Asia are
traveling around the globe to experience northern lights and the rest of the extraordinary scenery
that Norway offer. Among these countries, Indonesia is a rising star that should be recognized as
a profitable market for the future Norwegian tourism.
In 2014, the Norwegian Embassy in Indonesia issued 2440 C-visas (Schengen visas). Since then,
the number issued has grown steadily, and in August this year, a new record in number of visas
issued was already a fact. The Embassy expects the final number of visas issued for 2017 to be
approximately 4000, which is a joyful increase of 65 percent from the total in 2014. If including
the Indonesian tourists visiting Norway with visas from other Schengen countries, one is easily
looking at 5000-6000 Indonesians visiting Norway this year according to Visit Norway. The Embassy briefly estimates that about 70 % is issued for tourist purposes.
Northern lights and powerful nature
So, what do they see, where do they go, and most important; why do they choose Norway?
The Indonesians visits to Norway are often done as part of a round tour in Scandinavia.
However, when traveling to different places in North Europe, statistics show that more than 50 %
of their nights are spent in Norway, according to Visit Norway.
This indicates that Norway is actually among the main drivers when choosing North Europe as a travel destination. In addition to an increasing interest for northern lights, the Indonesians are also attracted to and fascinated by the powerful Norwegian nature, ancient history and culture.
The Indonesians traveling to Norway have a high purchasing power, and are so far proving to be
very profitable. On average, an Indonesian tourist in Norway is briefly estimated to spend
between 2500 and 3000 NOK per day, which is actually close to the daily consume of the well
familiar Chinese tourists. Also, statistics show that the Indonesians stay longer on average,
compared to for example the Chinese, according to Visit Norway.
Despite the preliminary growth in Indonesian travelers to Norway, there is no guarantee that this
trend will continue leading to a great boom. Even though the general knowledge about Norway is
definitively more present among Indonesians today than five years ago, we still have to invest
more to reach their attention and make Norway more visible. This leads to the next question; how
do we enlighten millions of Indonesians about our small country in the north, located thousands
of kilometers away?
Indonesia is one of the top five social-media markets in the world (Rebecca Lake 2014) . Knowledge, stories and pictures are used as an important source of information and shared among millions of people
The city of Jakarta is named the world´s number one “Twitter City”, which is quite
fascinating considering that Indonesia is still a developing country where a large part of the
population can not access the internet. Technology has most definitely been an important driving
force in making the world smaller and putting Norway on the map. We should take advantage of
the Indonesians growing love affair with social media, and intensify the process of selling
Norway through these distribution channels.
Opportunities in the market
Compared to other Asian countries, Indonesia is definitely still an immature market for the
Norwegian tourism sector. However, considering the increasing number of potential travelers, the
time has come for Norway to embrace these previous “tourism underdogs”. We know that
Norway already sells in Indonesia, and we know that Indonesians with a respectable disposable
income are willing to travel far to experience it. Therefore, more resources should be invested to
attract their interest to the north.
The Indonesian upper middle class is expected to grow from approximately 44 million to 73
million in 2020 (Lim et al. 2016). This is the largest increase in this period, compared to China, India, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam.
Many of the largest Indonesian travel agencies claim that Norway is of
increasing interest, which the statistics for visa applications also support. Based on this
information, and also considering that Indonesians show to be profitable tourists, there is no
doubt; we are looking at a future goldmine for the Norwegian tourism sector. It might be a bold
statement, but who knows, maybe in the future they will even beat the Chinese on tourism in
Written by: Ragnhild Bergan Grimstad
For more info, please contact:
Priscillia Maria Tanumihardja
Lim, Jaafar, Walters, Wu & Wastuwidyaningtyas. 2016. Capitalizing on Asia’s Booming Upper
Middle Class. Retrieved from:
Rebecca Lake. 2014, February 24th. Indonesia´s surprising love affair with social media. Jakarta
Globe. Retrieved from: