JAKARTA – Indonesia aims to attract 7 million foreign tourists in 2010, up from about 6.45 million visitors this year, Tourism and Culture Minister Jero Wacik said on Wednesday.
The minister said the Southeast Asian country had edged past its target of 6.4 million arrivals for this year despite the global economic crisis, militant suicide attacks on two luxury hotels in Jakarta in July and concerns over possible violence during parliamentary and presidential elections in 2009.
Wacik said, however, the amount spent by each foreign tourist fell to $995 this year from $1,178 in 2008.
The minister said foreign tourists in 2010 were expected to spend around $1,000 each, meaning a $7 billion inflow into the economy.
The minister also told reporters that the lifting of a European Union ban on airlines including flag carrier Garuda this year would also help boost tourism next year.
“And now, because Garuda Airlines is flying to and from Europe now, the numbers of tourists will go up,” he said.
Tourism accounts for about 3 percent of gross domestic product in Southeast Asia’s biggest economy, but some areas, including the resort island of Bali, are heavily dependent on tourism for jobs and growth.
The archipelago of more than 17,500 islands has beaches, mountains and dive-spots among its diverse attractions, but tourism infrastructure outside Bali is often poor and tourism campaigns have often been criticised as lacklustre.
Indonesia is also well behind tiny neighbour Singapore, which aims to attract up to 9.5 million tourists this year, and Malaysia, which is targeting 19 million foreign tourist arrivals.
Wacik said, however, that Indonesia’s arrivals had held up better than Vietnam and Thailand, which had seen drops of 16 percent and 17 percent respectively.