THE Indonesian government has continued to take precautionary measures against the impacts of the coronavirus on the national tourism sector, one of them being to boost domestic tourism through offering discounts on flight fares.
“Discounts on flight fares can increase domestic tourism,” Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Wishnutama Kusubandio stated after a meeting to discuss infrastructure development in Jakarta recently.
In accordance with the president’s instruction, the government will offer discounts on flights to Bali, Sulawesi, and Riau Islands. Bali, Sulawesi, and Riau Islands were the three tourism destinations that witnessed a decline in tourist visits over a ban on flights from and to China owing to the coronavirus outbreak, he remarked.
“Most visitors to Bali were tourists from Australia. Several Chinese tourists also visit Bali, North Sulawesi, and Riau Islands,” the minister added.
Hence, the government will encourage domestic tourism by supporting national tourists to travel domestically.
Wishnutama has also coordinated with some airlines and Minister of Transportation Budi Karya Sumadi for diverting routes or increasing the frequency of flight routes to Indonesia from other countries apart from China.
“Probably, additional routes will be operated from abroad to Indonesia in the near future,” he added.
However, the minister has yet to specify the targeted country since technical discussions are still to be held.
“We cannot announce if there is no agreement. We require a technical review and other things since this is also no easy task to shift the plane route,” he expounded.
During the 2016-2017 period, Chinese tourists were recorded as the largest group of foreign travelers visiting Indonesia, outnumbering Australian visitors and those from Singapore and Malaysia.
A total of 1,385,850 Mainland Chinese tourists had visited Bali in 2017, thereby making the PRC the biggest source of foreign visitors to the island, overtaking Australia.
Indonesia received 1.97 million Chinese tourists in 2017, and the figure increased to 2.7 million in 2018. The Tourism Ministry had outlined a target to attract 3.5 million last year, though it was missed due to natural disasters and the impacts of the US-China trade war.
The situation has worsened since late last year owing to the outbreak of coronavirus in China that claimed over 560 lives and infected some 28 thousand others.
According to data of the Central Bureau of Statistics (BPS), Indonesia missed its target of attracting 18 million foreign tourists last year, as foreign tourist arrivals in 2019 had reached 16.11 million, a rise from 15.81 million in 2018. The figure of 18 million visits was a revision from the earlier target of 20 million foreign tourists.
Most foreign tourists visiting Indonesia last year were from Malaysia, with 2.98 million visits, or 18.51 percent; followed by China, with 2.07 million visits, or 12.86 percent; Singapore, with 1.93 million visits, or 12.01 percent; Australia, with 1.39 million visits, or 8.61 percent; and Timor Leste, with 118 thousand visits, or 7.32 percent. [antaranews/photo special]