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Global crisis a 'blessing' for tourism: Minister  Oct 14, 2008

The current global financial crisis will benefit Indonesia's tourism industry, a minister says.

"The crisis is stressing so many people out. They need to relax to relieve the stress," Culture and Tourism Minister Jero Wacik said on the sidelines of a national working meeting of the Association of Indonesian Tours and Travel Agencies (Asita) on Sunday evening.

"That's why I am optimistic the number of foreign tourists visiting Indonesia will increase."

The government has set a target of receiving 7 million foreign tourists this year. In 2007, the country received 5.5 million, the highest number in 10 years.

As of August, Indonesia had received 4 million foreign tourists, but Wacik said he was optimistic the target would be met.

He estimated that a total 600,000 tourists would visit the country from September to October, and 900,000 in November to December.

The government is trying to encourage tourists to spend more money while on vacation.

It is estimated that the average foreign tourist in Indonesia spends $970 during their vacation, meaning a total of almost US$4 billion in revenue has come from tourists so far this year.

The government plans to increase the per-tourist total to $1,000 dollars, meaning the country would generate $7 billion in revenue this year. However, the government has set a target of $6.7 billion for the year.

"We are cooperating with tourism players such as Asita, hoteliers and airlines to improve promotions and services, increase the number of foreign flights and events in tourism spots and maintain security," Wacik said.

"We will boost (our efforts) in November and December by adding more foreign flights and by increasing interesting tourism events to lure tourists to stay longer and spend more here."

Wacik also called on Indonesians to holiday at home to increase the industry's revenue.

It is estimated that Indonesians spend $3 billion abroad every year, with half of that amount coming from haj pilgrimages.

"We are not only trying to boost the number of foreign tourists but also the domestic market," he said.

"Both foreign and domestic tourists must receive equal treatment because during such hardships domestic tourists can also contribute to the state coffer."

Wacik said that in the tourism sector, all benefits were channeled directly to the community without any profit sharing with the government or other parties.

"All income goes directly to the community; That's why we need to boost and develop the tourism sector."

Global crisis a 'blessing' for tourism: Minister
Culture and Tourism Minister Jero Wacik /

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