Some 9.5 thousand athletes, 2.5 thousand personnel of the Asian Olympic Council, and 5.5 thousand technical delegates from 45 Asian countries will participate, or be involved in the event. At least 3.5 thousand media representatives are expected to cover the games.
This is the second time that Indonesia is hosting the Asian Games, the first one was held in Jakarta in 1962.
For South Sumatra, the largest regional sports event in Asia is expected to provide long-term benefits for the province`s economy.
In accordance, the South Sumatran administration has prepared several plans to boost the province`s economy after the Games.
Hosting the Asian Games 2018 will help improve the local economy in the long-term, Yohanes Toruan, assistant-in-charge of economic affairs in the South Sumatra administration, stated on December 21.
"Currently, South Sumatra is focusing on preparations for the Asian Games. But, on the other hand, we must also think of what we should do to keep the economy growing even after the Asian Games," he remarked.
South Sumatra became internationally known after successfully hosting the South East Asian (SEA) Games in 2011, he stated.
The SEA Games made a significant contribution to the growth of the province`s economy, he noted. The regional budget of South Sumatra has increased from Rp2.7 trillion in 2011 to Rp7.8 trillion in 2017, he added.
He hoped that the upcoming Asian Games would give a similar boost to the province`s economy.
"Currently, investors have come to South Sumatra for the Asian Games. Of course, when they come, they will also see other sectors. If they find it to be promising, they will certainly invest their money here," he explained.
South Sumatra has a high potential for rubber plantation and cattle breeding investment, he indicated.
Moreover, the Palembang municipality administration has handed over loans to a thousand small- and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs) as capital to expand their businesses prior to the Asian Games.
The loan from the People`s Economic Improvement Program was interest-free, Palembang Mayor Harnojoyo pointed out recently.
The recipients of the interest-free loans include meatball vendors, chicken noodle vendors, and cracker vendors.
Out of 1.4 thousand applicants, a thousand vendors received the loans.
"This program is sustainable and will increase in 2018," he remarked.
In 2016,the economic growth rate of South Sumatra was 5.03 percent, slightly higher than the national economic growth at 5.02 percent, according to data from the Central Bureau of Statistics.
The infrastructure and other facilities being constructed by the Indonesian government in the two cities in preparation for the Asian Games will be a major boost to the economy at the local as well as national levels.
The central government has intensified construction of new venues and renovation of sports facilities, as well as the supporting infrastructure, both in Palembang and Jakarta.
Among the infrastructure projects being developed in Palembang is a Light Rail Transit (LRT) train network, which is expected to be completed in February 2018, and operational before the Games.
The state-run construction company, Waskita Karya, has been appointed by the Transportation Ministry to develop the LRT system in Palembang. Waskita was appointed through a presidential regulation signed in late October 2015.
The project is worth Rp10 trillion. The Palembang LRT line is 23.5 kilometers long and includes 13 stations. Travel time will be shortened by 50 percent along the route. The normal travel time is 90 minutes, but the LRT will reduce it to only 45 minutes.
The LRT will facilitate the transportation of thousands of athletes coming from all over Asia to take part in the largest sporting event in the continent.
The use of LRT during the 18th Asian Games, however, is just a short-term target, and for the long-term, the LRT is expected to help support the tourism industry in the capital city of South Sumatra Province.
South Sumatra Governor Alex Noerdin recently expressed the hope that the LRT network, currently being built in Palembang, will enable tourists to enjoy the various attractions in Palembang.
The province is also determined to use the Asian Games to promote its tourism spots in order to attract as many tourists as possible.
Palembang has been busy improving and renovating several tourist attractions in the city and upgrading its infrastructure to support the tourism industry. The tourist spots being renovated are the Kuto Besak Fortress, the Ampera Bridge, and the Kemaro Island.
Palembang wishes to impress the athletes, sports officers and foreign journalists covering the Games, so they spread the word about the tourist attractions in the city, and return to South Sumatra with relatives in the future.