Pekanbaru, Riau (ANTARA News) - The Tourism Ministry said Chinese tourists were the largest in number of foreign visitors to Indonesia in the first seven months of the year.

There were around 9.1 million visits by foreign tourists to Indonesia in the first seven months of the year. Chinese tourists accounted for the largest in number of 224,538 visits, A Deputy for Marketing II of the Ministry, Nia Niscaya said here on Friday.

Other countries with significant in number of tourists included Indians with 52,541 visits, Arab Saudi 37,188 visits, the United Arab Emirates 1,825 visits, Britain 40,881 visits , France 51,594 visits , Russia 7,192 visits , Japan 49,619 visits, South Korea 36,818 visits and the United States 39,540 visits.

The numbers of visits fluctuated but tended to increase in the seven months -- up from 1,100,222 visits in January to 1,201,001 visits in February and to 1,363,339 visits in March. The numbers dropped to 1,300,738 visits in April and to 1,200,815 in May before rising again to 1,318,028 in June and to 1,536,489 visits in July.

Nia Niscaya said the country earned Rp144 trillion from the tourism sector in 2015 , up to Rp172 trillion in 2016 and to Rp200 trillion in 2017 . In 2018, the contribution of the tourism sector to the country`s income is predicted to reach Rp223 trillion.

The number of visits rose from 10 million in 2015 to 12 million in 2016, to 15 million in 2017 and to an estimated 17 million in 2018 .

The number of domestic travels by Indonesians in the country rose from 255 million in 2015 to 260 million in 2016 and to 265 million travels in 2017 . In the 2018, the number is predicted to reach 270 million travels.

The government has sought to develop its tourism industry to become a major foreign exchange earner . More intensive promotional campaigns have been launched by the Tourism Ministry abroad as well as in the country.

Promotion in the country include sport events such as bicycle race Tour de Flores and Tour de Singakarak.

Last month the country hosted Asian largest sport event Asian games,and next month the country will host the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in Bali that is expected to be attended by financial minister, and Central Bank Governors from 198 countries.

Altogether the big meeting will bring in to the country an estimate of 17,000 visitors including the delegates, observers, journalists and other invitees and family members of the delegates.

Meanwhile Riau`s Deputy Governor Wan Thamrin Hasyim said the province has so far relied on oil and gas for income.

Wan said the province could not always rely on dwindling oil and gas reserves , adding Riau has to start looking for other potential resources such as tourism.

Riau recorded a strong growth for its tourism industry from year to year. In the first seven months of the year the number of visits by foreign tourists to the province shot up 416.5 percent to 27,088 year-on-year.

Reporting by FB Anggoro
Editing by Otniel Tamindael

Reporter: Antara
Editor: Andi Abdussalam
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