The Indonesian government is optimistic that it will achieve the target of attracting 10 million foreign tourists this year, despite natural disasters such as mount explosions and forest fires that triggered haze.
Tourism Minister Arief Yahya said it was his view that although Indonesias tourism sector faced many constraints such as volcanic eruptions and massive spread of haze, the sector is estimated to witness a rise of 5.81 percent this year.
Due to natural disasters, some people had predicted that the government would not be able to achieve its target of attracting 10 million foreign tourists in 2015.
But based on provisional data at the Central Bureau of Statistics (BPS), a total of 8,017,589 foreign tourists have visited the country during the January-October 2015 period.
This number increased by 3.38 percent, compared to 7,755,616 foreign tourist arrivals recorded in the corresponding period last year.
Apart from the January-October figure, the government has estimated that about 800 thousand foreign tourists arrived in November 2015 while 1.2 million others visited the country in December.
So, in total, the number of tourist arrivals at the end of the year would amount to 10,017,589, exceeding the target of 10 million.
"I am still optimistic of achieving the target. But we still have to wait until February 2016 before we can calculate and get the real figure (on the number of foreign tourist arrivals in 2015)," Minister Yahya noted.
Some considered that the minister had failed to achieve the set target of 10 million foreign tourist arrivals this year although the budget for his ministry had been increased.
He said it was too early to conclude that the government had failed to meet its set target of attracting 10 million foreign tourists this year, stated Arief Yahya
"We forecast that by the end of December 2015, the number of foreign tourist arrivals in the country will have reached 10.017 million, of which 800 thousand had arrived in November and 1.2 million in December 2015. This means that the target of 10 million for 2015 is exceeded," he affirmed.
Minister Yahya urged all sides to continue supporting the Indonesian tourism sector with the aim to improve the welfare of the people.
"The increase in budget will come into effect from next year. I appeal to all sides to jointly develop the tourism sector as it is our common responsibility," he emphasized.
The 10.17 million foreign tourists will earn the country a state revenue of US$11.9 billion or Rp163 trillion. The average length of the stay of foreign tourists in Indonesia is 8.50 days with each tourist spending US$1,190 per head per visit.
Meanwhile, the domestic tourists who undertook trips between January and October 2015 totaled 208 million. Some 22.5 million others travelled in November and 27.5 million in December 2015.
Thus, total domestic tourists in 2015 are recorded at 255.05 million, meeting the target set at 255 million.
Arief Yahya said tourism contributed 4.33 percent to the Gross Domestic Product in 2015, exceeding the target of 4.0 percent. It also provided jobs to 12.16 million people, surpassing the target of 11.3 million.
"Basically, the policy of tourism development in 2015 has been on the right track, facilitating the targets set by the government," the minister said.
Therefore, the government has set an ambitious foreign tourist arrival target of 12 million for 2016, expecting it to contribute Rp172 trillion to the state revenues in 2016.
The countrys tourism potentials could still be optimized in the coming years, Arief Yahya stated.
The minister explained that the country is also expected to see 260 million domestic tourist travels in 2016, with expenditures projected at Rp223.6 trillion.
He remarked that the contribution of the tourism sector to the countrys gross domestic product is projected to increase by five percent, and create 11.7 million jobs.
To support the realization of the targets, the ministers office, in cooperation with stakeholders, has prepared action plans including continuing the current marketing and promotion strategy with emphasis on positioning and strengthening the "Wonderful Indonesia" brand in the key market countries, Arief Yahya pointed out.
In 2016, Indonesia plans to participate in exhibitions such as the ITB Berlin, WTM London, WTM Dubai, CTM China, NATAS Singapore, MATTA Malaysia, JATA Japan, Korea, Australia, or international tourism exhibitions with special purposes such as the DEMA show, Cruise Shipping, Boot Dusseldorf, GOLF and MICE.
To introduce tourist destinations and the latest tourism packages in Indonesia, the Ministry of Tourism will also carry out the sales mission in big cities of several countries from where tourists come in big numbers.
He referred to cities such as Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Johor, Malaka, Kota Kinabalu, Bangkok, Phuket, HCMC and Manila in the Southeast Asian region; Shanghai, Chengdu, Seoul, Busan, Beijing, Hong Kong, Macau, Guang Zhou, Tokyo and Osaka.
Also,he mentioned Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane, Perth, Mumbai, and New Delhi in the Asia-Pacific region; and Amsterdam, Paris and Frankfurt in Europe; Dubai and Jeddah in the Middle East; Johannesburg in Africa; and Moscow.
The government of President Joko Widodo is determined to advance its tourism sector and boost its growth. It has set a target to attract some 20 million tourists by 2019.
A legislator has supported the govrnments plan to lure 20 million foreign tourists in 2019.
"In my view, the target of 20 million tourist arrivals for 2019 is rational. Malaysia is currently able to attract 25 million tourists. Actually, the number of our tourist destinations and sites is far greater than that of Malaysia," a member of the House of Representatives (DPR) Commission X, Teguh Juwarno said recently (Dec 10).
The Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs and Resources has set the target for tourist arrivals for 2019 at 20 million.
To attract more tourists, the government had waived visa requirements for 84 countries. It also eased the requirements for foreign cruise ships and yachts entering the archipelago.
"The government has designated 10 main tourist destinations, most of which are related to marine tourism, including Lake Toba, Seribu Islands, Wakatobi and Labuan Bajo," Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Resources, Rizal Ramli, said. (Antara)