‏Making Indonesia a haven for Saudis

‏INDONESIA under President Joko Widodo’s administration has set tourism as one of the priority sectors other than food sector, maritime, energy and industry. The government deems the tourism industry of Indonesia plays a pivotal role in boosting the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) as it triggers more foreign exchange earnings (as each foreign visitor spends between $1,100 and $1,200 per visit on average) while also providing employment opportunities to the Indonesian people.

‏President Joko Widodo’s administration even has set a target of reaching 20 million foreign tourists and 275 million domestic tourists by 2019. It is responded by Tourism Ministry office to achieve that target with the “Spirit of Indonesia Incorporated”.

In 2016 total foreign visitors arrival to Indonesia during the year 2016 reached 12.023 million, 15.54% increase compared to the total figure of 2015. This means the target set by the government to reach 12 million international arrivals in year 2016 has been successfully achieved.

‏This year, the government has set to increase international arrivals to 15 million, which is expected to contribute 13% share to national GDP and create 12 million jobs. The target is to push Indonesia’s competitiveness index, from the present rank of 50 up to 40 in the WEF World Competitive Tourism Index, amid global tourism growth of 4.4% and ASEAN tourism growth of 5.1%.

‏Tourism shows a positive trend. From the first semester (January-June 2017) the number of international arrivals to Indonesia has surged to 22.4% reaching a total of 6.48 million visitors, up from the 5.29 million in 2016 year on year.

‏Indonesia’s resolve in tourism sector is even set higher by raising its goals and targets for 2017 to 15 million international arrivals — or a growth rate of 25% — and on to 20 million arrivals in 2019

‏Minister of Tourism Arief Yahya announced that in 2019, tourism would be Indonesia’s biggest foreign exchange earner. By that time, he wants tourism’s contribution to national GDP to have doubled, bringing in $24 billion annually.

‏To reach this ambitious dream, Indonesian government has taken a number of policies, among others, developing 10 emerging tourist destinations as top priorities, visa-free entry for the tourists from 169 countries, air connectivity and land bridge by building supporting infrastructures to destinations, in a bid to double the number of foreign tourist arrivals within the next five years.

‏Airport improvements are under way in other parts of the archipelago, in the wake of a 2014 government’s commitment to build 165 airports across the country. Some 29 airports are to be renovated to handle international traffic.

‏Tourist Arrivals from the Middle East

‏The number of tourists from the Middle East to Indonesia is growing rapidly by the year. In 2015, the number recorded was 180,000. Last year, the number rose to 30% or 240,000, 80% of which is from Saudi Arabia. This year, the ministry has set the target of a 50% increase to reach 360,000 Middle East visitors, especially from Saudi Arabia.

‏Saudi Arabia currently ranks 13th among Indonesia’s top tourist markets and is at the top among the Middle East countries. The influx of Saudi tourists to Indonesia is expected to surge with the historical visit by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman. — SG