Tanjungpinang, Riau Islands (ANTARA) - The lifting of community activity restrictions (PPKM) by President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) was a good change for the local tourism sector, Riau Islands Governor Ansar Ahmad stated.

This decision demonstrated that Indonesia's handling of COVID-19, especially in the province, was very good, so it has become safer and more comfortable for foreign tourists to visit, he remarked.

"The revocation of community activity restrictions would boost foreign tourist visits to Riau Islands in 2023, because if we reflect on 2022, up to November, there were already 569 thousand foreign tourists visiting Riau Islands, an increase of 200 percent as compared to 2020," he said in Tanjungpinang on Tuesday.

Moreover, the central government has issued several policies to increase foreign tourist visits to Riau Islands, he noted.

One such policy was through the second home visa for foreigners for investors, tourists, elderly, or retired travelers, who have lived in Indonesia for five to 10 years.

In the near future, he will also gather tourism business actors to find solutions to their challenges in bringing in foreign tourists to Riau Islands. For instance, on the status of Tanjungpinang Raja Haji Fisabilillah International Airport (RHF), which was pending due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it had to be re-proposed to the central government.

He stated that the international airport status was deemed important to establish foreign flight routes to Riau Islands and vice versa, because so far, foreigners from China to India have dominated the number of visits by foreign tourists to the province.

Based on information obtained from the Bintan Resort Cakrawala (BRS), some 400 thousand foreign tourists are scheduled to come to the Lagoi tourist area in Bintan District this year.

The governor expected that the central government would remove the visa on arrival policy for foreign tourists, as it was considered restrictive for foreigners' arrival.

"For tourists with a stay of only one or two days in Riau Islands, of course, it will be a loss if they are still subject to VoA," Ansar stated.

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Translator: Ogen, Mecca Yumna
Editor: Rahmad Nasution
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