Manado, N Sulawesi (ANTARA) - The government will work on improving North Sulawesi's infrastructure, comprising facilities at its airport, as part of the efforts to increase foreign tourist visits to the region.

"The number of hotels here is still less. Why? It is an issue of spatial planning. We have the investors, but the spatial planning is not ready yet. Now, we have the head of the National Land Agency (BPN), public works minister, governor, and mayor," President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) stated here on Thursday.

The president and First Lady Iriana were on a working visit to North Sulawesi to take a close look at the region's infrastructure to support the province's tourism industry.

The head of state arrived at the Sam Ratulangi Air Force Base at around 11:55 a.m. local time and conducted an inspection of the passenger terminal of Sam Ratulangi Airport.

Sam Ratulangi Airport serves seven international flight routes to Singapore, Guangzhou, Changsa, Tianjin, Shanghai, Nanning, and Xi'an.

"Most of them are Chinese routes, with flights to seven provinces in China, owing to the proximity. (North Sulawesi) is a mere four-hour flight to China," the president pointed out.

According to data of the Manado Immigration office, foreign tourist visits during the January-May 2019 period has reached 55,144, or a 9.67 percent rise than 50,284 travelers during the corresponding time frame in 2018.

Of the total tourists, most came from China, reaching 86 percent, followed by two percent each from Singapore and Germany, and 1.3 percent from the United States.

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North Sulawesi has been named as the Rising Star of Indonesia's tourism sector for its ability to boost its growth to 600 percent within the last four years.

The number of foreign tourists visiting North Sulawesi, especially Manado and Bitung, had reached 20 thousand in 2015, rising two folds to 40 thousand in 2016, 80 thousand in 2017, and 120 thousand in 2018.

Within a four-year span, in total, foreign tourist visits to the province has jumped six folds.

Similarly, the number of domestic tourists visiting the region has reached two million in 2016, with the figure continuing to increase to four million in the next year.

During the visit, the president was also accompanied Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung, Public Works and Public Housing Minister Basuki Hadimuljono, Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi, Minister of Agrarian Affairs and Spatial Planning/Head of the National Land Agency (BPN) Sofyan Djalil, Justice and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly, and North Sulawesi Governor Olly Dondokambey. Related news: North Sulawesi adopts 3A strategy for tourism promotion

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Translator: Desca Lidya N, Sri Haryati
Editor: Fardah Assegaf
Copyright © ANTARA 2019