Tourists watch traditional Balinese Kecak Dance at Uluwatu Temple on Bali - Photo by Antara

JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories)Foreign tourist arrivals in Indonesia during 2019 reached 16.11 million visits, the county’ statistics agency said Monday (02/03), missing the government’s revised target of 18 million visits after previously being targeted at 20 million visits. The number, however, rose 1.88 percent compared to 15.81 million visits recorded in the same period in 2018.

While in December 2019, foreign tourist arrivals reached 1.38 million visits, down 2.03 percent over the same period in December 2018. Meanwhile, when compared to November 2019, the number had increased by 7.52 percent. The number of foreign visitors visiting Indonesia in the first 11 months last year rose 3.55 percent to 14.92 million, the agency said.

“Last year, foreign tourist visits were still below the target, amounting to 16.11 million. The figure shows we still have a tough task to increase the number of visits, at least achieving what is targeted,” head of statistic’s agency Suhariyanto told media in Jakarta.

Tourists came mostly from American regions of 14.16 percent compared to the same period in the prior year. While the most decreased came from the Asian region excluded ASEAN of 10.3 percent. Over last year, the tourist came from Malaysia with 2.98 million visits (18.51 percent), followed by China of 2.07 million visits (12.86 percent).

The third-place occupied by Singapore with 1.93 million visits or 12.01 percent, Australia 1.39 million visits or 8.61 percent, and Timor Leste with 1.18 million visits or 7.32 percent, the agency said.

In December, the tourists came through the air entrance as many as 838.98 thousand visits, 388.50 thousand sea visits, and 149.59 thousand land visits. Meanwhile, the occupancy rate of star-rated hotels reached 59.39 percent, down 0.36 points compared to the same period in 2018 which was recorded at 59.75 percent. But it increased by 0.81 points from November 2019. The length of stay was recorded at 1.76 days, rose 0.01 points compared to December 2018.

This year, the government has revised down the target number of foreign holidaymakers visiting the country but expected the travelers would stay longer. The Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry forecasts 17 million foreign tourists coming to the archipelagic country this year, falling from last year’s target of 18 million.

The ministry has expected that the duration of the foreign travelers’ visits would exceed 10 days, minister Wishnutama Kusubandio told media days ago. With the expected duration, he said, the tourists would spend between US$1,500 and $2,000 dollars.

Kusubandio said the ministry would focus more on business travelers in the hope they would spend more money. The government would build more supporting facilities and developing more tourist destinations for that purpose, he said.

Amid the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, the government is now seeking to lure more visitors from America, Australia, and European countries, he said. To achieve this, the government will build connectivity such as direct flights to these countries as well as create high-quality attractions.

Chinese tourists are starting to cancel their trips to Indonesia over fears of an acceleration of the spread of a deadly coronavirus in the Asian nation and around the world, as the World Health Organization declared it an international emergency on Friday.

The chairwoman of Indonesia Travel Agent Association, Elly Hutabarat, said on Thursday that there were cancellations both ways, from China to Indonesia and Indonesia to China.

“Yes, there are a lot of cancellations. Yesterday, 10,000 Chinese tourists canceled their trips to Bali and from here [Indonesia], there were also trips to China that all got canceled,” Hutabarat said on the sidelines of the release of Travelport’s 2019 global digital traveler research in Jakarta on Thursday.

Hutabarat said that many trips were canceled because several airlines, such as Singapore Airlines, Lion Air, Cathay Pacific, and Asiana Airlines, decided to limit or suspend their flights to several Chinese cities.

Indonesia has temporarily stopped flights to and from mainland China, excluding Hong Kong and Macau, starting Wednesday until the deadline to be determined later. It will immediately bar visitors who have been in China for 14 days from entering or transiting.

Chinese tourists account for the second-highest number of foreign tourist visits to Indonesia, after Malaysia. In 2019, 2.0 million Chinese tourists visited Indonesia, representing nearly 12 percent of overall foreign tourist visits, Suhariyanto said, stressing the coronavirus will impact significantly on Indonesian tourism.

President Joko Widodo has set a target to attract 10 million Chinese tourists annually to Indonesia, which has become even more difficult to achieve as the coronavirus has claimed 213 deaths in China with 9,816 cases reported around the world since the beginning of the year.

Written by Lexy Nantu, Email: lexy@theinsiderstories.com