Indonesia’s Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Mari Elka Pangestu said on Wednesday that ASEAN targeted to boost the number of Indian tourists visiting the region.
“The number of Indian tourists coming to the region has been increasing from year to year. The growth has been improving,” Mari said on the sidelines of the ASEAN Tourism Forum in Manado, North Sulawesi.
“Indian tourist arrivals to the ASEAN region stood at 14 million last year. The trend has shown an improvement [in the number of tourist arrivals],” she added without further elaboration.
To lure more tourists from India, the minister continued, ASEAN would open a representative office in Mumbai to promote the region’s tourism to Indian residents.
ASEAN tourism ministers will sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the tourism cooperation with the Indian tourism minister on Thursday.
Indian Tourism Minister Subodh Kant Sahai said that he hoped the cooperation would boost the number of tourists bound for India from the region.
“We have heritage, historical and religious tourism – everything is there. ASEAN countries share cultural roots with India somehow. [The cooperation] is a great thing,” Sahai said.
Mari said that she hoped the cooperation would boost the number of tourists from India to Indonesia.
“The number of Indian tourists coming to the region is still low compared to that of our other counterpart countries like China or South Korea,” she said, citing a lack of flight routes connecting the two countries as one of the reasons for the low number of Indian tourists coming to Indonesia.
“I hope [national flag carrier] Garuda Indonesia will open routes to India,” Mari said.
According to the Central Statistics Agency, the number of Indian tourists coming to Indonesia reached 149,432 in 2011, increasing from 137,027 in 2010.