Tourist arrivals to Indonesia up 27.7 percent

Tourist arrivals to Indonesia during the first four months of 2004 reached 1.36 million, up 27.7 percent compared with the same period in 2003, government officials said. The number of foreign tourists who passed through the country’s 13 gates across the archipelago in April was 322,146, up 57.5 percent from April 2003. But April arrivals declined 9.1 percent when compared with March’s figure of 354,291, said Sudarti Soerbakti, chief of the National Statistics Agency (BPS).

“The decline in tourist arrivals in April was due to the ‘low season’ for the foreign visitors to Indonesia,” Soerbakti said.

Soerbakti said the April parliamentary elections, which ran smoothly, did not affect the foreign visitors to the country, disproving previous assumptions that the campaign season would hurt the country’s tourism sector.

Several western embassies in Jakarta, including the Australian, British, Canadian and U.S. missions, have issued travel warnings to their citizens to avoid Indonesia during the upcoming presidential election period which officially kicked off Tuesday.

Indonesia’s tourism sector has suffered since the Oct. 12, 2002, terrorist bombings of two popular nightspots in Kuta, Bali, that left 202 people dead, mostly foreign visitors.

Other negative factors adversely affecting travel to Indonesia have included the war in Iraq, the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and the Aug. 5, 2003, terrorist bombing of the U.S.-managed J.W. Marriott Hotel in Jakarta that killed 13 people.

Officials have said recently the government’s new policy change to a liberal free visa-on-arrival facility for most foreign tourists has so far not affected tourist arrivals to the country.

In early February, Indonesia applied the visa-on-arrival (VoA) procedure to citizens from 20 countries, making it necessary for them to pay US$30 for tourist visas upon entering the country.

The more selective visa-on-arrival policy replaced Indonesia’s previous practice of granting 60-day visas upon arrival for tourists from 48 different countries.

Jakarta, Indonesia
author: The Jakarta Post

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