Indonesia achieves 2013 foreign tourist target

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The Indonesian government expresses optimism about achieving its moderate target of 8.6 million foreign tourist arrivals in 2013, and places yet another target for 2014 at 9.2 million.

The countrys target to receive foreign tourist arrivals in 2013 will be achieved due to an annual growth in foreign tourist visits noted over the years, stated Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Mari Elka Pangestu.

"Every year, the growth of international tourist arrivals reaches about seven to eight percent. So, we are optimistic that this years target will also be achieved," the minister remarked during a year-end press conference, here on Tuesday.

Pangestu noted that based on her ministrys estimate, the number of foreign tourist arrivals in 2013 will reach about 8,637,275, or a growth of 7.37 percent from the previous year (2012), which reached 8.04 million tourists.

Minister Pangestu explained that the prediction was derived from the figure achieved last November, which was at 5.52 percent, and was based on the assumption that the growth of foreign tourists will reach 0.53 percent in 2013.

There was doubt early last month about achieving this years target. It was recorded that foreign tourist arrivals in the January - October period stood at only 7.1 million.

This figure actually cast doubts whether the country will be able to get the additional 1.5 million foreign tourist arrivals in the remaining two months of the year.

In October, the foreign tourist arrivals grew by 4.59 percent to 719,901 from the 688,341 that was recorded in the same month in 2012. So, up to October this year, the total number of foreign visitors reached 7,134,02 million, which was believed to be far from the moderate target of 8.6 million at the end of the year.

The government had set the lowest target (pessimistic target) of foreign tourist arrivals in 2013 at 8.3 million, moderate target at 8.6 million and highest target (optimistic target) at 8.9 million.

Although the possibility of the country getting an additional 1.5 million foreign tourists in the remaining two months of November and December was questioned, the minister expressed, early last month, her optimism about achieving the target this year.

"If in the last two months of this year we have a growth of even three percent, we will achieve the moderate target," the minister confirmed.

She hoped that the growth in November - December will be higher and will exceed the 8.6 million target. "There will be a World Trade Organization (WTO) event in November, while December is the peak season for foreign tourists in Indonesia. So, we hope the target will be achieved," stated the minister earlier this month.

It seems likely that the ministers hope will soon become reality as it has been recorded that about 8,637,275 foreign tourists might have visited the country until the end of the year.

After all, the minister stated on Tuesday, that the growth of foreign tourist visits continues to increase every year.

"The arrivals of foreign tourists showed an upward trend from year to year. Foreign exchange contributed by the tourism sector also increased from year to year. It is higher than the national economic growth," noted Mari Elka Pangestu.

"In terms of domestic tourist trips during 2013, the number of trips is estimated at 248 million, with an average spending on each trip reaching Rp711 thousand," Minister Pangestu stated.

On the occasion, Pangestu also spoke about the development of the creative economic sector, with its growth of 5.76 percent above the national economic growth of 5.74 percent.

From the perspectives of foreign exchange receipt, gross domestic product (GDP) and workers absorption aspects, the tourism and creative economy continue to provide high contribution each year. In 2013 the GDP contribution reaches Rp347.35 trillion, up from last year, which stood at Rp326.33 trillion.

The creative economy contributed Rp641.82 trillion to the GDP, up from Rp578.76 trillion last year.

Data at the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy showed that the tourism sector in 2013 absorbed 10.18 million workers, up from 9.41 million in 2012.

The absorption of workers by the creative economy sector also increased to 11.l87 million people in 2013 or up by 8.89 percent from that in 2012.

During a visit, each foreign tourists spending in 2013 reached US$1,142, such that the amount of foreign exchange the country will earn this year amounts to US$9.78 billion, or an increase of 8.17 percent from a year earlier.

The Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy has also set another foreign tourist arrival target for 2014 at 9.2 million. The target of 9.2 million foreign tourist visits in 2013 is 7.5 percent higher than the target in 2013 at 8.6 million.

"In 2014, 16 key destinations are expected to attract around 9.2 million foreign tourists," Minister Mari Elka Pangestu stated.

Even though the number of tourist visits in Indonesia has continued to increase over the past few years, the growth is slow when compared to that of other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

During the crisis in 1998, the tourist arrival targets in ASEAN member countries were almost the same. For example, Malaysia set a target of 5.5 million, Thailand 7.7 million, Singapore 6.2 million and Indonesia 4.6 million.

But Indonesia has now lagged far behind, with Malaysias target this year (2013) reaching 26.8 million, Thailand 25 million, Singapore between 14.8 million and 15.5 million and Indonesia 8.6 million.