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During the first quarter 2012, visitor arrivals increased by 11.01%

Indonesia tourism growth could hit at infrastructure deficiencies

Mari Elka Pangistu, Indonesia Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy can be satisfied by the evolution of Indonesian tourism. Speaking mid March in Berlin during the ITB, Mrs. Pangistu indicated that total international arrivals grew last year by 9.2% to reach 7.65 million international tourists while domestic travellers generate some 120 million travels per year.

First figures for 2012 show the growth trend accelerating. During the first quarter, visitor arrivals increased by 11.01% to reach 1.903 million. Provinces or destinations such as Batam Island, North Sumatra or South Celebes record over-the-average growth rates ranging between 14% and 25%.

Speaking during the ITB in Berlin, the Minister mentioned that Indonesia is likely to reach eight million international travellers by year end. “We even expect moderate growth from Europe, at approximately 5%. Despite the economic recession affecting many European markets, we continue to consider Europe as a priority market for us. Our five largest markets in Europe -UK, France, Germany, Netherlands and Russia- represent some 700,000 to 800,000 travellers a year, a market far of being neglectable,” said the Minister.

Like her predecessors, Mrs Pangistu is keen to see foreign tourists venturing outside traditional destinations, especially Bali. The Island of the Gods still remains a favourite among foreign visitors, representing close to 36% of all arrivals. The Minister designated 15 tourism destinations to be developed over the years to come which will benefit from specific financial incentives as well as simplified investment conditions. The new destinations include all kind of tourist destinations from Jakarta old town to Mentawai island in West Sumatra – a paradise for divers but also a fabulous area for its ethnic culture- or to exceptional natural sites such as Raja Ampat in Papua and Komodo Island. “We want also to promote Indonesia as a diving paradise as they are some 600 diving spots identified in our archipelago with many being well-known by from the divers community,” said the Minister.

The only problem that faces tourism in Indonesia is the numerous bottle necks in infrastructures. Despite putting the development of terrestrial and sea infrastructure as a national priority, little has been done due to the gigantic task of addressing years of neglect.

Additionally, the country’s main gateway, Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali, recorded an 11.35 percent quarter-on-quarter increase from 612,333 to 681,838 this year.

International arrivals to Indonesia: market share by destinations (January to March 2012)

(Source : Indonesia Ministry of Tourism and Creative Industry)

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Luc Citrinot a French national is a freelance journalist and consultant in tourism and air transport with over 20 years experience. Based in Paris and Bangkok, he works for various travel and air transport trade publications in Europe and Asia.