The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
Indonesia, Southeast Asia's largest economy, saw a 11.4 percent jump in foreign tourist arrivals during the first seven months of the year due in part to better security and a prodigious advertising campaign.
The Central Statistics Agency (BPS) revealed tourist arrivals soared to 3.47 million in the first seven months of the year from 3.2 million in the same period last year.
In July alone, the number of foreign arrivals hit 529,064, up by 10.24 percent from 514,600 in the same month last year.
The increase coincided with the peak holiday season around the world, the report said.
The rise was also attributable to better security and numerous tourist attractions, according to the BPS.
The agency showed Bali remained the country's most popular destination, netting 1.15 million visitors in the first seven months of this year, a 21.5 percent jump from 953,014 a year earlier.
West Sumatra enjoyed the biggest jump in the number of tourist arrivals, with a 30 percent rise to 19,994.
However, the figures reveal with five months left in the year, the country is still 3.53 million tourists short of a seven million target set by the Culture and Tourism Ministry as part of its Visit Indonesia 2008 program.
The ministry has allocated around Rp 1 trillion (US$108 million) to support the program.
The ministry's director general of marketing Sapta Nirwandar said recently he expected this year's numbers to continue to outperform last year's in the remainder of 2008 spurred by a number of upcoming cultural and sporting events in Bali, Lampung and West Sumatra.
The decision by the U.S. to remove its Indonesia travel warning after eight years has boosted international confidence on security in the world's largest Muslim country.