Tourist arrivals booming on international events

04 April, 2014 | Source: THE JAKARTA POST

The number of foreign tourists achieved double-digit growth in the first two months of this year, partly thanks to international events and the increased seat capacity on several international flights.

The Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry said in Jakarta on Tuesday that foreign tourist arrivals over the past two months had increased 12.61 percent to 1.45 million people, from 1.29 million in the same period last year.

“We see an improving trend and we hope we can achieve the target of 9.4 million foreign tourists this year, or even surpass it,” Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Mari Elka Pangestu told reporters during a press conference on Tuesday.

She said that the country saw 6.6 percent decrease in the number of tourists in February compared to the 753,079 people that arrived in January. However, 678,417 people arrived in the country in February, which is a 3.57 percent increase compared to the same month last year.

According to Mari, tourism faced a few major obstacles throughout February this year: the eruptions of Mount Sinabung in North Sumatra and Mount Kelud in East Java, which had resulted in the temporary closure of the airports in Juanda in Surabaya, East Java; Adi Sucipto in Yogyakarta; Adi Sumarmo in Surakarta, Central Java; Ahmad Yani in Semarang, Central Java and Husein Sastranegara in Bandung, West Java.

However, she said that a number of international events in February, including Indonesia Fashion Week and the Java Jazz Festival, had bolstered foreign tourist arrivals.

“This shows a synergy between the development of the creative industry and tourism,” the minister said.

The increase in direct-flight seat capacity also contributed to the increase in the number of foreign tourists, she said.

According to data from the ministry, the seat capacity for Middle Eastern tourists this year increased 13.5 percent from 1.7 million last year; direct flights from China was up 34.74 percent from 435,344 seats to 586,812 seats this year; and seat capacity from South Korea increased by 31.63 percent from 465,348 seats to 612,560 seats.

Mari said that Indonesia would likely attract more tourists from China, which is now the largest foreign tourist market in the world.

“Indonesia is currently a very attractive destination for foreign tourists. What we have to do is to prepare the human resources as well as the infrastructure. Another challenge is to diversify the destinations, and invite more tourists to visit other destinations beyond Bali,” she said.

Regarding the upcoming legislative and presidential elections, Indonesian Hotel and Restaurants Association (PHRI) chairperson Yanti Sukamdani Hardjoprakoso separately said that the elections would not affect hoteliers.

She said that compared to December, the association recorded a declining number of guests, but the fall in the occupancy rate was not due to the elections. “We always see a decline in occupancy rate in the early months of the year. This is a seasonal situation that has nothing to do with the election,” Yanti said.

Mari shared a similar view, saying that the elections basically had traditionally pushed up consumer spending, including on travel.

She also said that the increase in airport tax implemented by state-run airport operator PT Angkasa Pura I, which manages airports in central and eastern Indonesia, including Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali and Juanda Airport in Surabaya would not affect domestic tourist arrivals.

“The airport tax increase is relatively high but we don’t think it will stop people from traveling,” she said.

 

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