Govt to involve street vendors in developing tourism: minister

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The government is planning to involve street vendors in its efforts to develop the tourism sector, Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Mari Elka Pangestu said here on Monday.

"There are always street vendors at tourism sites. Rather than letting them operate in usually haphazard ways, the government will take the initiative in helping them do business in more orderly and sustained ways by giving them adequate space to sell their products near tourism sites," Mari said at the 1st National Tourism Conference at the Sahid Hotel, Jakarta.

Citing an example, she said the government had built kiosks near the entrance gate of Prambanan Temple in Central Java where street vendors were now selling their goods.

In the future, she said, more such facilities would be built for street vendors. However, Mari said to implement the plan, the central government still needed to hold discussions with local governments and other stakeholders about the management of the kiosk after they had been built.

Earlier, the ministry`s director of market development, Sadar Pakarti Budi, had said Indonesia had set itself the target of attracting 8 million foreign tourists in 2012 and earning a total of US$8.98 billion in foreign exhange.

He said the figure represented a 7.35 percent increase compared to this year`s target which was 7.7 million foreign tourists.

"The tourism sector is projected to grow 6.42 percent this year," he said.

He expressed optimism the tourism industry would grow positively according to the target thanks to the improving competitive edge of Indonesian tourism.

Indonesian tourism was expected to expand in 2012 in terms of budget, tourist arrivals, foreign exchange earnings, representative offices and direct flight seats which currently stood at 15 million.

"So far we have provided visa-free facilities to 12 countries and visa-on-arrival (VOA) facilities to 64 countries," he said.

Looking ahead, he said tourism development would be focused on ecotourism, meeting, incentive, convention and exhibition (MICE), sports events, heritage, shopping, honeymoon, cruise, culture and arts show, spa and health-care. (*)