Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Ex Minister Mari Pangestu: Capitalize on Tourism From Rupiah Weakness

The persistent weakening of Indonesia’s rupiah against the US dollar may serve as an opportunity to capitalize on tourism, says Mari Elka Pangestu, the country’s former tourism minister.

However, Mari cautioned that the government should prepare an appropriate strategy to do so, amid sluggish economic growth.

Mari, also a former trade minister, said on Tuesday that the weak rupiah made the country’s exports, services and tourism more competitive. “[A] weaker currency means lower prices for tourists, but remember, there’s a slowdown in the global economy as well. [Foreigners] are hesitant to travel,” she said after the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) released data on foreign tourist arrivals in July.

Foreign visitor numbers rose by 4.76 percent in July from the same period a year earlier.

However, data also revealed that the number of foreign visitors fell from 815,100 in June to 814,200 in July.

“The point is, now we should promote tourism to the right market, or to countries that [are] suffering less [of a] drop in economic growth. For example, we should [target] China which still has better economic growth,” Mari said.

The rupiah has lost more than 13 percent of its value against the greenback since the start of the year, hitting 17-year lows. On Tuesday, it traded at 14,081 to the dollar.

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