The number of tourist arrivals in the country is projected to reach 18 million by the end of 2019, he said after swearing in administrative officials, supervisory officials, functional officials and officials of the authority boards at the ministry in Jakarta on Tuesday.
"I informed President Joko Widodo of this figure when he asked me about the tourism projections for this year," he said.
The projection of 18 million tourist arrivals represents a two-fold increase over the past five years, although it falls short of the target of 20 million for this year, he said.
"When I assumed the post of tourism minister in 2015, the number of tourist arrivals was 9 million. The figure increased two-fold to 18 million in the past five years," he said.
The government has projected that foreign exchange earnings from the tourism sector will reach US$17.6 billion-US$18 billion this year. The figure surpassed foreign exchange earnings from crude palm oil (CPO), which were listed as the country's largest exchange earner last year.
Foreign exchange earnings from the tourism sector were equal to those of CPO, when the number of tourist arrivals reached 16.4 million last year, with foreign exchange earnings recorded at US$16.1 billion.
The minister said the ministry will cooperate with tourism stakeholders to carry out four programs to achieve the target of 18 million tourist arrivals. The four programs include border tourism, hot deals, tourism hubs, and LCC Terminal.
"Through the border tourism program, we target (the number of tourist arrivals) to reach 3.4 million. Last year it stood at 18 percent, and is projected to increase to 20 percent of the target ot tourist arrivals this year," he said.
The hot deal program offers huge discounts during low season and is expected to contribute 2 million-2.5 million tourist arrivals.
"Through the hot deal program last year, we managed to sell 700,000 pax, with the largest share of 20 percent coming from Riau Islands," he said.
To implement the tourism hub program, the ministry is cooperating with Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. "This program is a solution for direct flights, which are difficult to find and take a relatively long time," he said.