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Terror won’t dissuade tourists, says Indonesian minister

Publication Date : 10-09-2012

 

Indonesia's Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Mari Elka Pangestu remains upbeat that a recent string of minor terrorism acts is unlikely to scare away foreign tourists from visiting the archipelago.

Mari said the government would not revise its target of attracting at least 8 million foreign tourists this year, or a 5 per cent rise compared to 7.6 million last year.

“The US and several European countries had excluded us from their travel warning list in 2008. And they will remain with that. Australia had raised our safety level one notch in May. So I remain upbeat the recent [terrorism] incidents won’t much affect tourism,” said Mari on the sideline of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.

A bomb explosion rocked a house in Depok, West Java, around 10 kilometres from Jakarta, on Saturday night, injuring five. The police are still investigating the incident.

The incident was a fresh one on the heels of a series of terror-linked incidents across Jakarta in the past two weeks, including the findings of home-made bombs in Tambora, West Jakarta, and the arrest of a terror suspect in Depok for alleged involvement in the armed attacks on police officers in Surakarta, Central Java, last month.

Three separate shooting incidents also occurred in Surakarta within the past two weeks, allegedly committed by gunmen linked to a splinter cell of the Jamaah Islamiyah terrorist organisation. Two policemen were killed in separate incidents while scores of others were injured.

Mari, however, believed law enforcement agencies would eventually quash the terror acts, and improve safety.

The number of foreign tourists on a year-on-year basis decreased by 5.94 per cent, from 745,451 in July last year to 701,200 this year, according to Central Statistics Agency.

Mari cited the decline was influenced by Ramadhan, where Muslims preferred to stay in their home countries to welcome the month. Indonesia’s strongest traveller sources, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and Malaysia, showed a double-digit decline on a yearly basis.

She also said the flagging economy of Europe, and a prolonged disturbance from infrastructure development in Bali had also contributed to the decline.

Next year, according to Mari, the government is targeting to lure 9 million foreign tourists arrivals, propelled mostly by Russian and Chinese tourists.

“Russia is a good market. They tend to stay longer and spend more. Next year’s Apec summit in Bali will also add a boost to the tourism industry,” she said.

 

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