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Indonesia's presidential polls could disrupt tourism
Publication Date : 11-12-2013
Indonesia's presidential election in 2014 could negatively effect tourism in the Riau Islands, with potentially fewer visitors travelling to the province, especially to Batam, the deputy governor of the province has said.
Next year’s election is predicted to be heated as President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono will be replaced after two terms in office.
Riau Islands Deputy Governor Soeryo Respationo asked tourism businesses and other stakeholders on Tuesday to increase their alertness during the presidential election, since possible turmoil during the lead-up to the poll could deter foreign tourists.
“The political situation next year will be heated because it will be a moment of regime change,” he said.
“There will be a sharp drop in the number of visitors to the Riau Islands and Batam if there are no special tourism packages or points of interest that can offered to foreign visitors.”
Soeryo said Batam’s strategic position next to Malaysia and Singapore was a blessing, since many foreign tourists, around 1 million per year, flowed from the foreign neighbours into Batam.
He added, however, that tourism destinations needed to be improved to keep attracting foreign tourists.
“I think it will be difficult to reach the number of visitors next year if there are no interesting tourism objects that we can promote,” he said.
“Foreign tourists will wait for the security and political situation to calm. Only then will they visit.”
A number of tourism players from the Association of Indonesian Tour and Travel Agencies (ASITA), the Indonesian Tour Guide Association (HPI) and others met to evaluate their performance in 2013 and forecast the number of foreign tourists visiting the Riau Islands in 2014.
In the first 10 months of 2013, there were 1.48 million foreign tourists, increasing from 1.43 million in the same period in 2012.
Most of the visitors in 2013 came to Batam - 1.05 million, compared to 980,359 visitors in the same period in 2012.
Meanwhile, Batam Tourism Agency head, Yusfa Hendri, said his office was still upbeat and had set a 5 per cent increase in projected visitors for 2014 despite challenges that could lead to fewer visitors.
The agency was optimistic that a target of 1.32 million visitors was achievable in 2014, considering that currently there were already 1.05 million visitors to Batam.
There were 1.25 million foreign tourists visiting Batam.
“We are optimistic the flow of visits will still be high,” Yusfa said.
“A number of international hotel chains will begin operating in Batam. This will spur the growth of tourism especially the number of visitors.”
Tourists coming to Batam are mostly from Malaysia and Singapore, especially on weekends.
Tourists from Malaysia and Singapore are interested in the local cuisine, particularly fresh seafood, shopping for basic commodities and for wellness treatments.
There are also increasing numbers of tourists coming from China and South Korea to Batam, which is also known as an industrial zone and designated free trade zone.