Thursday, April 10, 2008

Yogyakarta attracts more Eastern European tourists

More Eastern Europeans are visiting Yogyakarta as the economies in their homelands continue to strengthen, an executive with the provincial chapter of the Indonesian Tourism Community said Wednesday.

Chapter chairman Bagus Ardhi Baliantoro said Eastern European tourists began visiting Yogyakarta in real numbers about three years ago.

"The most significant increase was recorded last year, about 40 percent," Bagus said without providing details.

He said out of 110,000 foreign tourists visiting Yogyakarta in 2007, about 15 percent, or 16,000, were from Eastern Europe.

Bagus said that despite the increase, however, Eastern Europeans were still not as well represented as tourists from other regions.

"Whatever it is, the prospects for Yogyakarta are promising and can still be expanded," he said.

"The most important thing is that as they become prosperous, Eastern Europeans are acquiring the habit of traveling."

Because they are not familiar with Yogyakarta, most tourists only transit here on their way to Bali, maybe spending a day in the province at most, he said.

"Information on Yogyakarta tourism, including through websites in Eastern European languages, is important to attract them to come and stay in Yogyakarta," he said.

Another problem is the lack of guides who can speak Eastern European languages.

"We, for example, are in short of guides who speak Russian," he said.

He said better maintenance and upkeep of tourist sites, including Yogyakarta Palace and Prambanan and Borobudur temples was also important.

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