The global financial crisis made life tough for the tourism industry last year, with visitors spending less money and staying for fewer days even though the overall number of tourist arrivals increased slightly.
The Central Statistics Agency (BPS) said on Monday that total tourist spending declined 13.7 percent in 2009 to $6.3 billion from $7.3 billion in 2008, while the number of foreign nationals traveling to the country increased by 1.4 percent from 6.23 million to 6.32 million.
However, the Culture and Tourism Ministry projected that the tourism industry would bounce back to 2008 levels this year.
Noviendi Makalam, secretary of the ministry’s directorate general, said tourist spending declined as a result of the global financial crisis. Fewer people traveled long distances and those who did spent less time on holiday, he said.
According to a survey carried out by the ministry, tourists stayed an average of 7.6 days last year, down 10.5 percent from 8.5 days the previous year.
Spending per person declined 15 percent to $995.93 per person in 2009, down from $1,178.54 per person in 2008.
Noviendi explained that the biggest drops in tourist arrivals came from countries outside Southeast Asia. “The number of tourists from Japan and South Korea fell 20 percent,” he said.
This year promises to be better for tourism if the global economic recovery gains traction, resulting in more arrivals, longer stays and greater spending, Noviendi said.
“We project that the numbers will bounce back to 2008 levels,” he said.
For this year, the ministry projected that Australia, Malaysia, and China would provide the most tourists, with average growth of 25 percent.
The number of arrivals from Japan and South Korea is also expected to at least bounce back to 2008 levels.
For 2010, the Culture and Tourism Ministry has targeted 6.75 million to 7 million foreign tourists and $6.75 billion to $7 billion in total spending.
“The long trips by tourists will come back because the economy is improving,” Noviendi said.