Diseases 'cause drop in foreign tourism'
BANDUNG: Hemorrhagic fever and avian flu are believed to have caused a drop in the number of foreign tourists visiting West Java. Idjudin Budhiana, head of the West Java tourism office, said a drop of over 10 percent in tourist arrivals was registered throughout 2006.
West Java generally receives some 300,000 foreign visitors annually, mostly from Asian countries.
""We began to get the impact from reports about the avian flu being endemic in West Java. Many foreign tourists have dropped their plans to come here because of the fear of being infected by the avian flu virus,"" Budhiana told local media Wednesday.
Based on information from travel agencies, Budhiana added that aside from communicable diseases, foreign tourists were also reluctant to visit because of the natural disasters afflicting Indonesia. Most of the tourists who have canceled their travel plans to West Java originate in Europe.
The 200,000 foreign tourists that visited West Java last year came through Singapore or Malaysia, Budhiana said.
He regretted the drop in foreign tourist arrivals because West Java had recorded an average increase of 20 percent a year in foreign tourist arrivals since 2003.
To promote West Java tourism, the provincial tourism office will this month make a series of promotional tours to Malaysia and Singapore. The tours also include informing the people in the two countries about the real condition of infectious diseases and natural disasters in West Java.
""We will tell them we are not as bad as they think,"" Budhiana said. -- JP