Bintan, Riau islands (ANTARA) - Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Sandiaga Uno welcomed the first arrival of foreign tourists from Singapore in 2024 at Bandar Bentan Telani Por in Bintan, Riau Islands, on Monday.

Foreign tourists were welcomed by Minister Uno, who placed a garland of flowers around the neck and the tanjak, a Malay customary hat, accompanied by Riau Islands Governor Ansar Ahmad and Bintan District Head Robby Kurniawan.

"We welcome the first arrival of foreign tourists to Riau Islands. We ensure that tourism here is safe, comfortable, and fun," Uno remarked while welcoming the arrival.

He explained that Riau Islands is a province with the third-highest recorded foreign tourists' visits nationwide. The province offers several tourist destinations, such as Lagoi Bay and Treasure Bay, Trikora Beach, and Bukit Pasir (Sandy Hill) at Busung Village.

The tourism villages of Poyotomo and Ekang Anculai in Bintan and the Patung Seribu Temple in Tanjungpinang are other spectacular locations for tourists in the province.

He stated that the free visa on arrival (VoA) program proposed by the Riau Islands government is currently under review at the Finance Ministry.

"Hopefully, this can be realized, so that it becomes a 'New Year gift' for the Riau Islands in boosting its tourist visits this year," he remarked.

Meanwhile, Governor Ansar Ahmad stated that foreign tourists' visits to Riau Islands until October 2023 had reached more than 1.2 million. That figure continued to increase until the end of last year.

Based on data from Statistics Indonesia (BPS), he noted that foreign tourists' visits to Riau Islands until the end of December 2023 had reached 1.5 million.

"We are grateful because Riau Islands' tourism has improved, and we hope that there will be no more economic turbulence. Hopefully, its tourism can continue to skyrocket," Ahmad remarked.

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Translator: Ogen, Kenzu
Editor: Anton Santoso
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