Saturday, December 28, 2013

2014 foreign tourist arrival target lowered

The government has cut its foreign tourist arrival target for 2014 as the slow recovery in the global economy will continue to further reduce people’s spending on travel and other leisure activities.

Next year, the number of foreign tourists is expected to reach 9.2 million, below the estimate of 10 million, in line with the arrival trend this year, which is expected to see foreign tourist arrivals reach 8.63 million, below the initial target of 9 million.

Recent figures from the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) showed the number of foreign tourist arrivals had reached a total of 7.13 million in the first 10 months of the year, an 8.36 percent increase from 6.58 million in the same period last year.

Even though the growth of foreign tourist arrivals in the first 10 months was not as high as expected, Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Mari Elka Pangestu said the growth was still relatively high as it was above the country’s economic growth and global tourism growth, which stood at 5.74 percent and 4 percent, respectively.

“Foreign exchange earnings from tourism are projected to reach US$9.87 billion by the end of this year, increasing by 8.17 percent from the figure we recorded in 2012. We also see a strong contribution from tourism and creative industry to the country’s GDP [gross domestic product],” Mari said recently.

She said tourism’s contribution to GDP was expected to increase by 6.4 percent to Rp 347.35 trillion ($28.48 billion) in 2013, while the contribution from the creative economy sector was predicted to increase by 10.8 percent to Rp 641.82 trillion.

Food and fashion are the top two contributors to the creative sector, with Rp 208.6 trillion and Rp 181.6 trillion, respectively.

“We’re optimistic that 2014 is going to be a good year for the [tourism and creative] sector as we will continue our programs and strengthen collaboration with our partners such as China, Japan, Taiwan and Korea,” she continued.

In tourism, for instance, she said the ministry expected to see some progress on the Indonesia–China Tourism Years initiative, launched in November 2013, which aimed to boost traveler numbers from the world’s second largest economy.

Through this initiative, the ministry launched a Mandarin language website, and collaborated with local agencies to attract 1 million Chinese travelers by the end of 2014.

Indonesian Tourism Promotion Board (BPPI) chairwoman Wiryanti Sukamdani said the board would help the government reach the target by promoting the archipelago to China’s secondary cities like Fuzhou and Xiamen.

“Xiamen Airlines already has a direct service to Soekarno-Hatta [International Airport] and this will help us better tap into the Chinese market,” Wiryanti said.

For the European market, the ministry will focus on marketing activities in Germany since the growth of travelers from this country remains strong every year.

In addition, German carrier Lufthansa will resume its Jakarta–Frankfurt service on March 30, 2014.

Deputy Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Sapta Nirwandar said sharia tourism would be further developed as an alternative package for Muslim travelers next year.

“Sharia tourism is a promising sector because [Muslim] travel spending is huge. For halal food alone, they spent $1.6 trillion in 2012,” Sapta said, quoting data released by Global Islamic Economy Summit 2013 in Dubai.

He said the ministry and Indonesia’s Ulema Council (MUI) had created guidelines on this category of tourism and both parties were committed to developing the sharia concept via four products next year: hotels, restaurants, travel agents and spas.

Jakarta Governor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo recently announced the city was ready to become a sharia destination.

Jokowi is preparing a gubernatorial decree (Pergub) on halal certification. The certification will not be compulsory but hotels, restaurants and catering businesses will be encouraged to obtain one.

Sharia tourism is leisure and travel activities that comply with Islamic law, including the provision of cuisine and beverages that contain no pork, lard or alcohol. (Jakarta Post)

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