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Indonesia eyes regional tourists to boost up tourism industry | Updated: 2012-07-30 10:02

Indonesia is working to attract more visits of tourists from the neighboring countries of Singapore and Malaysia, expecting that tourists from those two countries will contribute the most to the country's tourist visit target until 2014.

Singapore and Malaysia, the two emerging economies in Southeast Asia, are expected to send up to 1.9 million and 1.55 million tourists, respectively, each year to Indonesia until 2014, Indonesian Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Marie Pangestu said.

"If the targets to attract tourists from Singapore and Malaysia at that number are accomplished, they will contribute 19-20 percent and 15-16 percent (respectively) to total foreign tourists visiting Indonesia from now on until 2014," the minister said on Thursday.

For closeness in culture and language with Indonesians, Singaporean and Malaysian tourists in Indonesia preferred to explore more of cultural attractions and the beauty of Indonesian natural landscape that is only one hour flight from their airports, she said.

The ministry has initially set a target of 8 million foreign tourists this year, or higher than 7.7 million last year.

"We would increase the target to 9 million next year and 10 million in 2014," the minister said.

The foreign tourist visit record attained in 2011 was 8.5 percent higher than in the previous year. They spent a total of 8. 5 billion U.S. dollars and stayed for an average of eight days in Indonesia throughout that year, the minister said.

Apart from Singapore and Malaysia, the ministry is also aiming at tourists from Australia, China and Japan that have been demonstrated significant contribution to Indonesia's foreign tourist records in the last few years.

For this year, the minister said it targeted up to 1.3 million tourists coming from Australia. Chinese and Japanese tourists are expected to reach 1.1 million and 560,000 respectively.

With financial crisis continue battering Europe and the United States, the minister said that the contribution of tourists from the two economies to Indonesia's foreign tourist visit targets until 2014 would be insignificant.

Tourists from England, France, the Netherlands and Germany were ranked at number 10 to 15 from the ministry's foreign tourist market target this year. "Their contribution would reach no more than 2.5 percent to total foreign tourist visit target this year," the minister said.

Indonesia, the largest country in Southeast Asia, recorded an average annual increase of 4.39 percent in foreign tourists visiting the country between 2000 and 2011, according to the data released by the ministry.

The growth was apparently higher than the world's average of 3. 47 percent.

The tourism industry has been opted by the Indonesian government as a sector expected to significantly help the country surviving from the impact of the ensuing financial crisis originated from Europe and the United States.

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