ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Domestic tourism on rise as weak rupiah discourages int’l travel
Airline passengers preferred to travel to domestic destinations in the first quarter of this year, as a weak rupiah against the US dollar discouraged travelers from going overseas.
The number of airline passengers traveling within the archipelago in the January to March period of this year rose 13 percent to 15.2 million from 13.5 million in the same period last year, data from the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) shows.
However, the number of Indonesians traveling to international destinations dropped 3.54 percent to 3.2 million from 3.3 million in the same period last year.
“We expected to see a 7 to 8 percent decrease in outbound tourists this year due to the depreciation of the rupiah against the US dollar,” Association of Air Ticketing Companies in Indonesia (Astindo) chairperson Elly Hutabarat told The Jakarta Post.
The rupiah exchange rate has been weakening since the end of 2014, having dropped 5.6 percent so far this year — the worst performance among the major Asian currencies tracked by Bloomberg. The currency closed on Friday at Rp 13,125 per dollar, prices from local banks showed, versus around Rp 11,500 per US dollar at the end of last year.
“Many people canceled their umrah [minor haj pilgrimage] trip this year due to the weakening rupiah. People opted to spend their holidays at much closer international destinations, such as Japan, and domestic destinations such as Yogyakarta, during the first quarter of this year,” Elly added.
Hence, the rise of domestic travel would be a trend at least throughout this year, she added, a view shared also by the Association of Indonesian Tour and Travel Agencies (Asita).
Asita chairman Asnawi Bahar said the country’s domestic tourist industry should seize the opportunity.
“The government should enhance the country’s tourist industry by preparing the infrastructure and supporting facilities, especially in ‘beyond Bali’ tourist destinations as we may see rising domestic travelers throughout the year,” Asnawi said.
Bali, Lombok and Yogyakarta remained the top tourist destinations for domestic travelers, he pointed out.
Tourism Minister Arief Yahya has targeted 254 million trips this year for domestic tourism, an increase from 251 million trips last year.
AirAsia Indonesia corporate secretary Audrey Progastama Petriny said the airline saw a declining number of international passengers during the first quarter of this year mainly due to the depreciation of the rupiah against the greenback, but stopped short of unveiling any figures.
It was a different case for Garuda Indonesia, which saw an increasing number of both international and domestic passengers during the first three months of this year.
“In the first quarter of 2015, Garuda saw an increase in passenger traffic of 13 percent for domestic and 17 percent for international passengers, as compared to the same period last year,” Garuda Indonesia president director Arif Wibowo told the Post.
The BPS data suggests that demand for travel remains high, despite the issuance of Transportation Ministry Regulation No. 91/2014 on a price ceiling and floor mechanism for domestic flights.
Under the regulation, which was signed by Transportation Minister Ignasius Jonan on Dec. 30, 2014, the price floor for scheduled airlines is set at 40 percent of the maximum price, rising from 30 percent previously.
The regulation also stipulates a minimum price for tickets, to ensure airlines operate in accordance with government safety standards when offering promotions.
For instance, the regulation states that the minimum fare for a Jakarta-Denpasar flight will be set at Rp 770,000.
Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang, Banten remained the main gateway for domestic travelers, receiving 4.5 million tourists within the first three months of the year, BPS data shows.
It was followed by Juanda International Airport with 1.5 million domestic travelers and Ngurah Rai International Airport with around 731,000 tourists.
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