By Eveline Danubrata and Stefanno Reinard
JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesian travel start-up Traveloka, which has raised nearly $500 million from investors including Expedia Inc and China's JD.com Inc, plans to ramp up its new tourist attraction booking service next year, a senior executive said.
Investors have been pouring money into start-ups in Indonesia, home to a population of 250 million and some of the world's most avid users of social media and online marketplaces.
JD.com's investment in Traveloka is another example of Chinese investment in online businesses in Indonesia. Sources said last month that Tencent Holdings Ltd had invested around $100 million to $150 million in ride-hailing start-up Go-Jek.
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Jakarta-based Traveloka was co-founded in 2012 by Indonesian engineer Ferry Unardi as a site to search for flights. It has since set up partnerships with more than 100 airlines and expanded to five other countries in Southeast Asia.
Early this year, it began providing ticketing for tourist attractions in Indonesia ranging from theme parks to zoos, and plans to double the number of such options on its site to 2,000 by the end of 2018, Traveloka's Chief Financial Officer Henry Hendrawan told Reuters.
As well as Expedia and JD.com, Traveloka also raised funds over the last year from East Ventures, Hillhouse Capital Group and Sequoia Capital.
Traveloka plans to use the money to hire more people and for other investments, Hendrawan said in an interview in a West Jakarta area dubbed "Slipicon Valley" as it houses many start-up offices.
U.S. travel company Expedia, which invested $350 million in Traveloka, said it will work with the Indonesian start-up to grow their global hotel supply.
"There is strong interest from investors coming from many different types of region," Hendrawan said. "Not only can they bring the capital, but they can also bring the knowledge, experience and the network."
Traveloka has tied up with more than 100,000 hotels, apartments and other forms of accommodation in Southeast Asia, a third of which are in Indonesia, said Hendrawan, a former management consultant at the Boston Consulting Group.
He said he was optimistic about the outlook of Indonesia's travel sector due to the expanding middle class and the government's commitment to building more infrastructure in Southeast Asia's biggest economy.
A rebound in commodity prices was also expected to boost travel to and from islands such as Sumatra and Kalimantan, Hendrawan said. "Travel generally is correlated with economic growth and Indonesia is in a good position."
(Reporting by Eveline Danubrata and Stefanno Reinard; Editing by Susan Fenton)