Jokowi received the title from Chairman of the Association of Indonesian Hotels and Restaurants (PHRI) Hariyadi Sukamdani during a gala dinner to celebrate the 50th anniversary of PHRI, held at the Jakarta Convention Hall, in Jakarta, on Feb 11, 2019.
Owing to Jokowi`s policies, including on visa-free travel, Indonesia received nearly 16 million foreign tourist arrivals during 2018. The rise in tourist arrivals in Indonesia has surpassed the average increase in the regions.
During the Jokowi administration, the allocation of tourism budget has also increased, from Rp1.2 trillion in 2014 to Rp2.1 trillion in 2015; Rp3.3 trillion in 2016; Rp3.2 trillion in 2017; Rp3.4 trillion in 2018; and Rp3.8 trillion in 2019.
"The honorary title was bestowed by PHRI on Mr. Jokowi for his initiatives and commitment to tourism development since he was the mayor of Solo," Sukamdani noted.
The country`s security and stability situation were also good under the administration of Jokowi.
Infrastructure development projects, such as toll roads, 11 new airports, seaports, and power plants, constructed by Jokowi across Indonesia have directly affected the tourism sector.
The increase in investment in hotel and restaurant development has reached 78.6 percent as of the first semester of 2018.
The total number of tourists arriving in Indonesia in 2018 had reached 15.8 million foreign travelers and 265 million domestic visitors, according to Sukamdani.
The PHRI chairman is optimistic that the target of 20 million foreign tourist arrivals in 2019 would be achieved through certain strategies.
"This year, we support the government by creating programs to increase hotel room and restaurant occupancies. More than that, we also plan strategies by offering hot deal products and intensifying business-to-business cooperation with major airlines and travel bureaus online," Sukamdani stated.
More than 15.81 million tourists visited Indonesia last year, up 12.58 percent from 14.04 million a year earlier, Tourism Minister Arief Yahya said quoting data from the Central Statistics Agency (BPS).
The tourism ministry listed five countries as top five sources of tourist arrivals in Indonesia last year. They were Malaysia, with 2.50 million or 15.83 percent; China, with 2.14 million or 13.52 percent; Singapore, with 1.77 million or 11.19 percent; Timor Leste, with 1.76 million or 11.15 percent; and Australia, with 1.30 million or 8.23 percent.
Malaysia led tourist arrivals in Indonesia last year, with 2.50 million, accounting for 15.83 percent of the overall tourist arrivals.
With the 2.50 million tourist arrivals, Malaysia took over China, which ranked second, with 2.14 million or 13.52 percent of the total.
More than 5.45 million of the overall tourist arrivals in 2018 were from other ASEAN member states, increasing 20.60 percent compared to 4.52 million the year before. Meanwhile, the number of tourist arrivals from Asia other than ASEAN was 5.84 million, growing 14.11 percent compared to 5.12 million in a year ago.
The number of tourist arrivals from the Middle East reached 226.9 thousand, declining 6.13 percent from 284.4 thousand.
Tourist arrivals from Europe contributed 2.008 million to the total, up 1.76 percent from 1.97 million, while those from America contributed 567.7 thousand, up 5.71 percent from 537 thousand.
The number of tourist arrivals from Oceania (Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, and other Oceania countries) reached 1.57 million, representing a 4.43 percent increase compared with 1.50 million. Australia led the number of tourist arrivals from Oceania, with 1.3 million, up 3.52 percent from 1.25 million.
Africa contributed 88.6 thousand to the overall tourist arrivals, declining 2.82 percent from 91.2 thousand.
The tourist arrivals in 2018 fell short of the government-set target of 17 million for the year. However, the amount of foreign exchange earnings from the tourism sector is estimated to have increased significantly.
A series of natural disasters hitting several parts of Indonesia, particularly main tourist destinations, was responsible for the failure to achieve the target of tourist arrivals. The natural disasters included a series of earthquakes in Lombok, earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Palu, and tsunami in Sunda Strait.
In December 2018 alone, the number of tourists visiting Indonesia was 1.41 million, increasing 22.5 percent from 1.15 million in December 2017, he remarked in a statement.
Yahya lauded the contribution of hotels and restaurants in helping achieve the government`s tourist arrival target.
"Accommodation and culinary arts have become the largest revenue contributors to the Indonesian tourism sector, reaching 60 percent, comprising 40 percent from hotels and 20 percent from culinary," he pointed out.
While receiving the honorary title, Jokowi highlighted the high potential of tourism in becoming the largest contributor of foreign exchange.
"Our tourism potential is huge. We are among the six most beautiful countries and the top 10 countries that must be visited," he revealed.
Jokowi believes that such recognition must become a brand and asset for Indonesia`s tourism, he added.
He stated that tourism has contributed to foreign exchange worth US$16 billion, exceeding those from palm oil and CPO. "Now, it is already the highest," Jokowi noted.
The president has ordered the public works and public housing minister to prioritize infrastructure development in four of the 10 New Bali tourist destinations. The four priority destinations are Mandalika, Lake Toba, Labuan Bajo, and Borobudur.