Riau Islands’ Batam, one of the country’s main gateways bordering with Singapore, recorded in January 102,630 foreign visitors, a 32 percent increase from the figure in the same month last year.
The Batam Tourism Agency said the rise was attributable to the string of events the city had hosted to attract visitors, including celebrations of the Chinese New Year and Lantern Festival, which apparently drew tourists of Chinese descent from neighboring countries.
“During the Chinese New Year and Cap Go Meh [the Lantern Festival], many tourists came from Singapore and Malaysia to take part in activities held at Batam’s Buddhist temples,” agency head Yusfa Hendri said in Batam on Wednesday.
He added Singaporean and Malaysian tourists topped the number of international arrivals in Batam in January, followed by visitors from South Korea, India, the Philippines, China and Australia.
“Singapore remains the largest contributor, about 60 percent, followed by Malaysia.”
Yusfa said Batam was targeting 1.26 million international visitors in 2012, 10 percent higher than the figure in 2011.
The island city is preparing at least 19 major events to draw more tourists this year, including the annual Sea Eagle Boat Race, Batam International Beach Volley competition and Singapore Strait Regatta, Yusfa added.