Minister hopeful of forex revenue from tourism to reach target

Minister hopeful of forex revenue from tourism to reach target

Tourism Minister Arief Yahya (center) performed Randai Kuantan traditional dance, along with Kuantan Singingi Deputy District Head Halim (second right) and Riau Governor Syamsuar (third right) during a festival in the district on August 21 ANTARA PHOTO/FB Anggoro/19/suharto

Jakarta (ANTARA) - Tourism Minister Arief Yahya is optimistic that foreign exchange earnings from the tourism sector this year will meet the government-set target of US$20 billion.

Foreign exchange earnings from tourism stood at $19.29 billion in 2018 so the figure will most likely increase to $20 billion in 2019, he said in Jakarta Monday. The tourism industry was yet to fully recover from a series of natural disasters that engulfed several parts of the country since 2017 including the eruption of Mount Agung in Bali, earthquakes in Lombok Island and tsunami in Sunda Strait, he acknowledged

They had begun to recover early 2018 after Mount Agung erupted in September 2017. However, a string of incidents including a bomb attack in Surabaya in May 2018 and earthquakes in Rinjani and Lombok in July and August 2018 hit the industry again, he said.

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It was again affected after a powerful earthquake and a subsequent tsunami devastated parts of Palu city in Central Sulawesi province in September 2018 and a Lion Air plane crashed into the waters off West Java's northern coast.

To make matters worse, the East Nusa Tenggara provincial government announced plans to close the Komodo National Park and a tsunami engulfed the coastal areas in Banten and Lampung provinces at the turn of last year.

As a result of the natural disasters, the number of tourist arrivals fell by one million in 2017 and 1.2 million in 2018, he said.

The number of tourist arrivals would drop by two million in 2019, he predicted.

"With the decline in the number of tourist arrivals, we will lose $2 billion in foreign exchange earnings," he said.

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