ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Number of foreign visitors hits all-time high
Indonesia: July has set a new record in the number of foreigners visiting Indonesia, with Chinese tourists topping the list.
The Central Statistics Agency (BPS) announced on Thursday that 1.03 million people visited the country in July, marking an all-time high.
Compared to one year ago, the July figure is up 17.7 percent. It is also a reversal from a less-than-favorable figure in June, when the number of visits dropped by 1.7 percent year-on-year to 857,651 as a result of the fasting month.
“July is a traditional high season, but we think our intense efforts to promote tourism in Indonesia have also been fruitful,” said I Gde Pitana, deputy minister for overseas promotion at the Tourism Ministry.
The ministry attributed the increase to the free 30-day visas now offered to citizens from dozens of countries, including China and Australia, which it said made it easier for tourists to visit the archipelago.
China ranked at the top of the list of countries of origin, with 153,934 visitors recorded in July, taking the helm from Singapore. The number of Chinese visitors surged 32.9 percent from June.
Coming in second and third place were Australia and Singapore with 122,866 and 94,187 visitors, respectively.
China is among countries the government is particularly targeting in its tourism campaign. The number of Chinese travelers visiting Indonesia is expected to climb to 1.7 million this year from 1.3 million last year.
Pitana said efforts from travel agencies as well as airlines to provide access for Chinese visitors to places like Manado in North Sulawesi had played a key role in boosting visits from China.
Airlines such as private carriers Sriwijaya Air and Lion Air have launched charter services connecting Chinese cities with Manado.
Around 7,000 Chinese tourists visited Manado in July after the charter flights became available, compared to almost none last year, according to Tourism Ministry data.
National flag carrier Garuda Indonesia has also flown holidaymakers from three major Chinese cities — namely Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou — to Jakarta.
The ministry claimed its tourism promotion in the Asia-Pacific area, especially in China, had borne fruit as well.
It has promoted Indonesia in dozens of Chinese cities and through Chinese media, such as search engine Baidu and television channel CCTV.
“We also see cities that serve as tourism gates developing significantly,” he said, citing BPS data that show that Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali welcomed 482,201 foreign visitors in July, up almost 20 percent from a month earlier.
As reported earlier, the current administration has made tourism part of its five priority sectors to be developed.
It aims to attract 12 million foreign tourists this year, up from 10.41 million last year. It hopes to drive the number up to 20 million tourists in 2019.
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Indonesia to launch 13th economic package this month
Coordinating Economic Minister Darmin Nasution said on Wednesday that the government would release its 13th economic policy package in August, adding that the draft had been completed.
Darmin said the 13th package was largely an extension of the previous one, but would expand its focus beyond industry. The 12th package focused on small and medium enterprises.
"We are just waiting to schedule a meeting with the president," Darmin told reporters at his office. He refused to give the exact date the new policy package would come into effect.
The ministry team must meet with President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo one more time to finalize the details, Darmin said.