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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs   29  December 2010

Indonesia upbeat on tourism

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Natural disasters frequented the headlines in 2010, but even the wettest and wildest of weather failed to dampen tourism officials' optimism.

Flash floods, Mount Merapi's eruptions and earthquakes had raised concerns that Indonesia would not be able to reach its target of attracting 7 million foreign tourists this year. As the year approaches its close, though, officials are still upbeat.

"Indonesia has had to face heavy odds in its tourism sector this year due to the occurrence of a number of natural disasters. But we are still optimistic that the target of 7 million will be achieved," said Sapta Nirwandar, marketing director general of the Culture and Tourism Ministry.

The optimism comes from tourist arrivals in the January-October period this year, which hit 5.7 million. Arrivals in November and December have yet to be calculated, and officials said December is usually a peak time for arrivals.

Interim data also showed about 233 million domestic travelers engaged in tourism in Indonesia.

"We hope that the number of foreign tourists arriving in November and December will be stable, or at least equal to that of last year or even exceeding it," Sapta said.

Results from the Visit Indonesia Year 2010 program were expected to be announced late on Tuesday evening during an appreciation night. Minister of Culture and Tourism Jero Wacik was also expected to announce the theme of Visit Indonesia Year 2011 and next year's foreign tourist arrival target.

"We are still discussing the possibility of setting the target at between 7.3 million and 7.6 million next year," said Noviendi Makalam, secretary to the director general for marketing affairs at the Tourism and Culture Ministry.

He said the figure would not significantly increase compared to the 2010 target of 7 million arrivals.

"So far we are convinced that the 7 million figure is a psychological figure, which means that if we are able to exceed the 7 million target this year, we will not face difficulties in getting more than that next year," he said.

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