The government is optimistically hoping to attract 5.5 million overseas tourists next year on intensified promotion despite only 4.8 million tourists visiting Indonesia this year.
"We had 5.3 million tourists in 2004, after having negative growth for two consecutive years in 2002 and 2003. So, I'm optimistic that the 2007 target will be attainable," Culture and Tourism Minister Jero Wacik said during a media briefing Wednesday.
He said the Bali bombings in 2005 and the Yogyakarta earthquake last May, as well as the fear of avian flu, were some of the causes that contributed to the decline in the number of tourists this year and last year.
The minister forecast the country would earn Rp 45 trillion (US$ 5 billion) in foreign exchange revenue from overseas tourists in 2007, with most of these tourists entering through the country's three main gateways -- Ngurah Rai, Soekarno Hatta and Batam airports. Jero estimated that each visitor would spend at least $903.
Indonesia will only earn $4.38 billion from overseas tourists this year, down from $4.5 billion in 2005.
However, the number of domestic tourists grew steadily this year to more than 115 million, spending a total of Rp 78.6 trillion, representing 1.5 percent growth over last year's Rp 77.5 trillion.
The 2007 budget for the Culture and Tourism Ministry has been pegged at Rp 982 billion, 50 percent of which will be spent on upgrading the tourism industry. Domestic and overseas tourism promotion will account for $12 million of the ministry budget.
The Culture and Tourism Ministry will start preparing next year for the 2008 Visit Indonesia Year and the 2008 World Culture Forum by encouraging more tourism based on international events such as meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE).
The ministry will particularly target visitors from China, India and the Middle East, which are the country's most prospective new markets, besides the traditional markets of Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Australia and Europe.
By way of comparison, Malaysia's "Truly Asia" promotion attracted 15 million overseas tourists in 2005. The neighboring country has also allocated $80 million for the promotion of the 2007 Visit Malaysia Year. (07)