The Jakarta Post
Foreign tourists disembark onto a jetty at Banjar Nyuh Port in Nusa Penida, Bali on June 10. (Shutterstock/JG Arif Wibowo)
Following a decline in the number of Chinese tourists caused by the increased tension of China’s trade war with the United States, the government is now seeking to lure more visitors from European countries.
“We don’t have to [rely on] Chinese tourists all the time. We will shift our target to European countries such as the United Kingdom, which we haven't really tapped into,” Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Wishnutama Kusubandio told tempo.co on Wednesday.
According to Wishnutama, the characteristics of Indonesia’s tourist destinations, which mostly boast natural wonders, suit the European market, which largely prefers outdoor activities such as sailing in Labuan Bajo in East Nusa Tenggara and Tanjung Puting in Central Kalimantan.
However, marketing the archipelago as a tourist destination for Europeans would be more costly as it requires more effort, he added.
"But it's a market with potential. We can see now that Labuan Bajo has been welcoming mostly Western tourists," said Wishnutama, adding that the ministry was also wanted to attract more tourists from the United States and Australia who have similar interests.
According to Statistics Indonesia (BPS), Indonesia welcomed 1,565,200 tourists from Europe between January and September 2019. The number is slightly less than the 1,566,900 people of the year before.
During the same period, Indonesia reportedly welcomed 482,500 American tourists, which was an increase of 12.93 percent compared to last year.
Although Wishutama said that he would shift his focus to marketing Indonesian tourism destinations in Europe and other Western countries, he also said he will keep encouraging tourists from China.
Despite the new strategy, Wishnutama said that the government would continue to boost the growth of Chinese tourist visits to the archipelago, with Likupang and Manado in North Sulawesi being prepared as the main destinations to attract them.
Based on BPS data, the number of Chinese tourist visits between January and May 2019 only grew 2.2 percent. Following the decline, Malaysia replaced China as the number one foreign tourist contributor to Indonesia thanks to its 23.04 percent growth during the same period.
In early December, Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Industry Association chairman Haryadi Sukamdani predicted that the number of Chinese tourists visiting Indonesia might drop by 15 to 20 percent.
“[The decline], which predicted to reach almost 1.5 million visitors, is purely due to economy [factor],” Haryadi said. (dpk/kes)
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