With his ministry working hard to promote Indonesia globally, particularly in China, India, the Middle East and Europe, nearly 18 million tourists will arrive this year, an optimistic Indonesian Tourism Minister Arief Yahya believes.
Tourism Minister Arief Yahya launched a Calendar of 100 Wonderful Indonesian Tourism Events in late 2018 to promote the country’s tourism attractions and attract foreign tourists.
The Calendar of 100 Wonderful Indonesia Tourism Events is the initiative of President Joko Widodo to inform the world that the country has various events of international standards.
Besides, the Tourism Ministry has intensified the role of the Tourist Information Center (TIC) and coordinated with various regional administrations to step up tourism promotion activities.
The target of 18 million foreign tourists has been revised from the previous target of 20 million foreign visitors this year.
Several unpredictable circumstances such as natural disasters have affected the arrivals of foreign tourists in the first semester this year, forcing a revision in the target, the Tourism Ministry explained in late July.
“According to data from the BPS (Central Bureau of Statistics), the number of foreign tourist arrivals last year was 15.8 million. It would require a huge increase from 15.8 (million) to 20 (million). Therefore, this year’s target has been revised to some 18 million,” Esthy Reko Astuti, expert staff of the Tourism Ministry in charge of the Management of the Calendar of Events, said July 29, 2019.
Between January and May 2019, Indonesia welcomed 6.37 million foreign tourists, a 2.7 percent rise as compared to the corresponding period of the previous year. In May 2019, the number of foreign tourists had reached 1.256 million.
In addition to intensifying tourism promotion, the Indonesian Government has developed various facilities and infrastructure to boost the tourism industry, as well as renovated and upgraded several tourist destinations to make them world-class.
The Government has designated 10 tourist destinations as priority ones and dubbed the 10 as “New Balis”. The 10 priority tourist destinations are Borobudur in Central Java; Labuan Bajo-Komodo Island in West Manggarai District, East Nusa Tenggara; Mandalika on Lombok Island, West Nusa Tenggara; Bromo-Tengger-Semeru in East Java; Pulau Seribu in North Jakarta; Lake Toba in North Sumatra; Wakatobi in Southeast Sulawesi; Tanjung Lesung in Banten; Morotai in the northern region of Halmahera in the Maluku Islands; and Tanjung Kelayang in Belitung, Bangka Belitung.
Of these ten, the government is focusing on four, namely Lake Toba, Mandalika, Borobudur, and Labuan Bajo-Komodo Island, and has speeded up their development by 2020, according to Arief Yahya.
“There are four super-priority locations namely Lake Toba, Mandalika, Labuan Bajo and Borobudur. By 2020 all infrastructure and basic utilities must be completed for attraction, access, and amenity,” Yahya said after a closed-door meeting on the development of priority tourist destinations led by President Joko Widodo recently.
The meeting was also attended by Vice President Jusuf Kalla, cabinet ministers, East Nusa Tenggara Governor Viktor Laiskodat, West Nusa Tenggara Governor Zulkieflimansyah, North Sulawesi Governor Olly Dondokambey, North Sumatra Governor Edy Rahmayadi and Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo.
“Lake Toba for instance, has been named by the UNESCO as Global Geo-Park. Access to Silangit airport would be improved. There is a toll road from Kualanamu (airport) to Lake Toba, and there is an investment of Rp6 trillion in 2020,” the minister remarked.
Following the meeting, Kalla led a coordination meeting to discuss ways to develop the four tourist destinations.
The meeting agreed on the creation of a tourism coordinating board to follow up on President Widodo’s instruction.
“Mr. President has declared four super-priority destinations, with Lake Toba being number one, followed by Borobudur Temple, Mandalika, and Labuan Bajo-Komodo Island. So, this is the tourism coordinating board with Mr. Vice President as its chief. At the meeting, Mr. Vice President also wanted to hold a monthly meeting.” Minister Arief Yahya noted.
Tourism is one of the main sources of foreign exchange. In 2018, Indonesia’s foreign exchange earnings from the tourism sector reached US$17 billion, up from $15 billion a year earlier, Yahya remarked.
“The foreign exchange earnings from the tourism sector in 2018 are projected to reach $18 billion as compared to $15 in 2017,” he added.
Earlier, when the Indonesian government had set the tourist target at 20 million, it had hoped to earn $20 billion in foreign exchange.