‘Ni hao ma?’ Indonesia greets more Chinese tourists
Farida Susanty and Prima Wirayani
The Jakarta Post
Chinese tourists once again top the list of foreign visitors, driving the authorities and businesspeople to embrace their oriental spirit.
The number of Chinese visitors is on the rise, as confirmed by data from the Central Statistics Agency (BPS). According to the latest monthly statistics, 151,054 Chinese citizens visited Indonesia in August.
While down 1.9 percent from the previous month, the figure marks an increase of almost 20 percent from the same period in 2015.
It was the second month in a row — and the fourth time so far this year — that the Chinese reigned in the tourism sector, followed closely by Singaporean and Australian travelers. Most of the Chinese tourists opted for Bali as their destination.
The Tourism Ministry’s deputy minister for overseas promotion, I Gde Pitana, attributed the rising trend to the holiday season in August in China and the government’s efforts to attract more visitors.
He said the ministry would remain focused on its tourism promotion program in China until the end of the year to introduce the archipelago in several major cities, such as Beijing and Shenzhen.
The government aims to attract at least 1.7 million Chinese tourists this year, up from 1.3 million last year. It has scrapped the visa fees for Chinese travelers, making China one of 169 countries the nationals of which enjoy free entry to Indonesia.
For this month, the ministry has geared up for the Chinese Golden Week, a seven-day national holiday period start began on Oct. 1. It has established cooperation with travel agents and tour operators in Bali and China since July to offer tourism packages to Bali and Manado, North Sulawesi.
“That way, Chinese companies won’t send their employees to Thailand [for the holidays]. They can just go to those destinations,” Pitana said, adding that several airlines were also on board to achieve the 1.7 million tourist target.
The country’s largest low cost carrier, Lion Air, is serving direct flights from six Chinese cities, including Macao, Shenzhen and Shanghai to Manado in July and August. The airline hopes to fly at least 30,000 Chinese tourists to Manado by the end of the year.
National flag carrier Garuda Indonesia, meanwhile, has flown holidaymakers from three major Chinese cities — namely Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou — to Jakarta.
BPS head Suhariyanto said that the visitors contained in the statistics were all tourists and not workers. “The [Chinese tourist] surge is not happening in Indonesia alone, but also in other countries, supported by [the tourists’] higher earning per capita as China’s economy grows,” he said.
Meanwhile, Jayakarta Hotels and Resorts president director Adwin Dhanu said the chain — which has hotels and resorts in Bali and Jakarta — had prepared several facilities to accommodate the rising number of tourists.
“We have prepared a separate, special breakfast called Chinese breakfast in which we provide bread, porridge and dim sum,” he said over the phone, adding that it was different from the full buffet breakfast offered to Australian tourists.
Jayakarta also employed Mandarin-speaking staff in the guest reservation divisions at its hotels in Jakarta and Bali who serve most of the Chinese guests.
Separately, Adi Satria, the vice president for sales marketing and distribution at AccorHotels Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, stated that it also provided Chinese food on the menu as well as Mandarin-speaking employees at its luxury and upscale hotels.
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