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NEW UPDATES Asean Affairs  3 September 2014  

Govt on course to reach 9.5 million foreign visitors

With the arrival of foreign tourists showing year-on-year (y-o-y) growth in the January-July period, the government is confident about achieving its full target for 2014.

The Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry said 5,328,732 foreign tourists entered Indonesia throughout the January-July period this year. It was a 9.37 percent increase from 4,872,262 tourists in the same period in 2013.

Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Mari Elka Pangestu said on Monday she was optimistic about achieving this year’s target of around 9.3 million foreign visitors.

“We’re still optimistic. We can even expect over 9.55 million foreign visitors this year. With the current growth rate, we should be able to exceed the target, as more people visit the country in the second half of the year than they do in the first half,” Mari said at a press conference in Jakarta on Monday.

Mari expected that visitor numbers would pick up in the second semester due to the multitude of events lined up this year, including the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival in Bali and the Jakarta Marathon, both of which are slated for October.

Mari said that the tourism sector could rake in about US$11 billion in foreign exchange, or an increase of 10.7 percent from last year. She also said that the sector’s contribution to the economy outpaced even the national gross domestic product (GDP) growth. Tourism’s contribution until midyear grew by 6.68 percent, compared to the national GDP growth of 5.17 percent.

Mari revealed that the greatest number of foreign tourists came from China and the Middle East, with both regions booking substantial double-digit growth.

The number of Chinese tourists has grown by 25.96 percent y-o-y, with the ministry expecting to attract 1 million visitors by the end of this year.

Compared to last year, the amount of visitors from Bahrain grew by 69.68 percent, followed by the United Arab Emirates with 54.61 percent, Egypt with 46.95 percent and Saudi Arabia with 42.84 percent.

“The number of tourists from the Middle East is rapidly growing, even though they represent a small [customer] base,” Mari told reporters.

According to Mari, the surge of Middle Eastern tourists can be accredited to several factors, including the government’s efforts to
push sharia-based tourism and its participation in the Arab Travel Mart event.

Mari also said that Middle Eastern tourists often travel for an extended period overseas — from three weeks to a month — to avoid the summer heat in their region.

Connectivity also played a big part in bringing visitors in from the Middle East, with airlines providing direct flights to Jakarta from transportation hubs in the region, she said. “There are a lot of choices for direct routes into the country, from Etihad and Emirates, to Qatar and Garuda [airlines]. It really helps us become more competitive,” Mari said.

Meanwhile, Deputy Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Sapta Nirwandar attributed the sudden interest in Indonesia to Indonesian migrants abroad indirectly promoting their country. “We can’t always look to troubled Indonesian migrants. There are also those who have successfully forged good relations with their employers, and promoted Indonesia up to a point that their employers know quite a bit about their hometowns,” Sapta told reporters on Monday.

Indonesian Tourism Promotion Board (BPPI) head Wiryanti Sukamdani said that interest may also have been spurred by the government’s sales mission to Turkey last year, in which it managed to net tourists who originally wanted to travel to Egypt, Syria or Iran, but were fearful of the political turmoil in
the region.

According to ministry data, investments in the tourism sector in the first half of 2014 grew by 114.68 percent y-o-y to reach US$255.99 million, up from last year’s total of $119.24 million. Foreign investments were valued at $243.035 million, while the remaining $12.956 million originated from domestic investors.

Domestic trips in the first half of 2014 are estimated to reach 107.08 million, increasing by 0.40 percent over the same period in 2013. Domestic tourism spending amounted to Rp 76.16 trillion.

Filtered by province, the largest number of domestic trips in the first semester came from East Java, with 19.65 million trips, followed by Central Java with 15.46 million, West Java with 15.24 million, Jakarta with 8.32 million and Banten with 4.79 million.

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