Antara, Beritasatu, Jakarta – An expected drop in the number of Chinese tourists due to coronavirus concerns may cost Indonesia $2.8 billion this year, an official said on Thursday.
Indonesia's tourism industry depends largely on Chinese tourists, who made up nearly 13 percent of total international arrivals last year.
According to the government data, 2.07 million arrivals from China were recorded last year, second only to those from Malaysia.
Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Wishnutama Kusubandio said the potential loss was calculated from Chinese visits only, while some other Asian tourism hubs were also very likely to be affected by the coronavirus scare.
"Average spending per arrival by a Chinese tourist is $1,400. Assuming that there 2 million tourists [cancelling Indonesian trips], the potential loss could reach $2.8 billion," Wishnutama said in Jakarta.
"The figure doesn't include an expected downward trend in arrivals from other countries," he added.
The coronavirus outbreak has prompted many countries including Indonesia to suspend commercial flights from and to China.
Whisnutama said arrivals from Singapore and Hong Kong had indicated a decline as well. "If we put them together, the potential loss could go beyond $2.8 billion," he said.
The minister added that the three months from February are the booking period for travelers before the summer holidays arrive.
"The peak of the booking time is from February to April. So even if the coronavirus crisis can be settled by April, the impact will remain until the end of the summer holidays," he said.
Deputy minister Angela Tanoesoedibjo said earlier tourist events will continue to run despite the global concern about coronavirus that will affect tourism industry.
"We will make sure that the calendar of events will continue to run, most notably the international events where foreign media will be invited to have firsthand view of Indonesia as a safe place to visit," Angela said in Jakarta.
Indonesian airlines will open new international routes while travel bureaus will offer more attractive packages, she said.
The daughter of media tycoon Hary Tanoesoedibjo also said attempts will be made to boost leisure travels by domestic tourists. "In 2018, we had 303 million leisure travels by domestic tourists," Angela said.