Citilink, the subsidiary of the country`s flag carrier Garuda Indonesia will open new routes to China mainly to facilitate transport of Chinese tourists.
Citilink, so far concentrating only to serve domestic routes, will serve regular flights to three cities in China Kunming, Nanjing and Xianmen starting October, 2018.
The opening the new routes would certainly increase the number of Chinese tourists to visit Indonesia, Vincent Jemadu, Director of Promotion of Great China of the Tourism Ministry, said here on Friday.
The program will contribute to meeting the country`s target in number of visits by foreign tourists. Indonesia especially hopes to attract more Chinese tourists with target set by President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) between 5 million to 10 million Chinese in 2020.
Chinese tourists began to lead in number among foreign tourists visiting Indonesia in 2016 putting behind tourists from Singapore, Malaysia and Australia.
So far, the government has opened air routes between Indonesia and 33 cities in China but the routes have been served by with chartered flights by the flag carrier Garuda Indonesia, Citilink, Lion Air and Sriwijaya.
Meanwhile, China Southern plans to double frequency of flights to Bali from seven to 14 flights a week starting October, 2018, Vincent said.
Therefore, Indonesia has to be more serious in preparing tour guides that could speak in Mandarin, he said, adding so far Mandarin speaking guides are available only in Bali.
Meanwhile Chinese tourists have visited not only Bali but also Jakarta, Bangka Belitung and the Riau Island provinces. Manado also is booming as a new destination of tourists from China.
"The availability of Chinese speaking guides are still a problem in a number of regions. Tourist destinations have to be friendly with Chinese tourists," Vincent said.
Chinese tourists in Indonesia are now bigger spenders with spending averaging US$1,000 per visit with length of stay of 5 days.
Reporting by Adi Lazuardi
Editing by A Saragih, Bustanuddin