The tourism industry in Indonesia has yet to develop maximally. Though the country is rich in tourism potentials, this sector could not yet be fully tapped to give benefit to the nation.
Apart from terrorist and natural disaster disturbances in recent years, the government`s inconsistent polices can also be a factor that hampers the country`s tourism development.
"There are many inconsistent polices in the tourism sector which often overlap each other, particularly those issued between the central government and the regional administrations," Jongki Adiyasa, vice chairman of The Association of the Indonesian Tour & Travel Agencies (Asita) for Jakarta, said.
He cited as an example the police numbers of vehicles for a tourism fleet in Bali and Jakarta. "In Bali they are required to use private plate numbers while in Jakarta they have to use service ones. Thus, in Bali, a fleet has to pay tax higher than one that has to be paid in Jakarta," he said.
Jongki said that many investors were actually waiting for the government`s consistent policies before they could go ahead with making a serious investment in Indonesia.
According to Central Board of Statistics (BPS)`s Head Rusman Heriawan, albeit small, the increase showed signs of improving tourism industry in the country amid the global economic meltdown.
The same optimism was also expressed by an official of the Tourism and Culture Ministry.
"In September 2009 alone, the number of tourist arrivals was 493,799," head of the Tourism and Culture Ministry`s data processing and network system center Wibowo said.
Compared to the same period last year, however, the number of tourist arrivals in September 2009 slightly fell 1.44 percent, he said.
"The number of foreign tourists to Indonesia in the January-September 2009 period increased by an average of more than two digits," he said.
Based on the BPS data, the number of foreign tourists visiting Indonesia in the first eight months of 2009 rose 1.38 percent to 4.13 million from the same period last year. More than 4.06 million foreign tourists visited Indonesia in the January-August 2008 period.
The Indonesian tourist resort island of Bali took the lead with 1.53 million tourist arrivals, a 13.38 percent increase compared to the same period last year when the figure was 1.35 million.
However, according to Made Kawiana, a tourism observer and businessman, foreign tourist arrivals in Bali in the January-August period in 2009 numbered 1,464,738 or 12.8 percent higher than in the same period last year when the figure was 1,296,046.
"This means foreign tourists wishing to visit Bali were not affected by the terrorism issue in Indonesia," Made Kawiana.