JAKARTA, Indonesia – Indonesia intends to double tourist arrivals from China by 2014 as bilateral relations have developed rapidly in recent years, Indonesia’s Tourism Minister Mari Elka Pangestu has said.
Indonesia would like to have more flights to China, with the aim of attracting 1 million tourists from the world’s second largest economy by 2014, the minister told Xinhua ahead of a Chinese leader’s visit to the country.
Li Changchun, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, is currently on a four-nation overseas tour.
The Chinese leader has visited Britain, Canada and Colombia and is expected to arrive in Indonesia on Thursday. The visit will last till Saturday.
To attract more Chinese tourists, Indonesia’s leading carrier PT Garuda Indonesia has opened an office in Beijing and is planning to provide daily Jakarta-Beijing flights.
Pangestu, who is of Chinese origin, said the weakening global economy would not have a significant impact on the country’s tourism industry as the government has diversified its market to emerging economies in Asia.
“We will see that Asia would not be significantly impacted by the global economic crisis. We will boost our promotion to penetrate the market in Asia, such as China, South Korea, India and Russia.”
The tourism industry has been the third biggest revenue generator for Indonesia after energy and palm oil industries. The number of tourists from China coming into Indonesia was around 470,000 in 2011, according to Indonesian official figures.
Indonesia has been working hard to boost the competitiveness of its tourism industry that may become a new engine of economic growth.
Jakarta has asked the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to speed up implementation of a common visa for the 10-nation bloc in a bid to boost tourism.
Indonesia, the world’s largest archipelago country with 17,508 islands, boasts cultural and ethnic diversity, natural sights and historical heritage.
The beauty and uniqueness of the island country attracted 7.65 million foreign holidaymakers last year, higher than the 7 million people in the previous year, according to the statistic agency.
Pangestu said this year Indonesia is expecting 8 million foreign tourists and the number could reach 9.5 million in 2014.
Bali island is the center of the country’s tourism industry, and the Komodo dragon island is the habitat for the world’s largest living species of lizards, which was declared last year as one of the world’s new seven wonders by the World Seven Wonder Foundation.
The world’s largest temple of Borobudur in Yogyakarta province, the beauty of coral reef in Bunaken of South Sulawesi and Lombok island, have also attracted many foreign tourists.
The country also has tourism destinations linked with the expedition of historic Chinese marine explorer and diplomat fleet admiral Cheng Ho, or Zheng He, who sailed to Indonesia over 606 years ago, years before Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean looking for a sea route to Asia.
There are three mosques named “Cheng Ho Mosques” scattered around Indonesia to commemorate his visit.