Eva Fitriani, Jakarta – The government has been put on alert after the latest data revealed foreign tourist arrivals in Indonesia are behind target, threatening to undermine the country's foreign exchange revenue.
Only 5.12 million foreign tourists came to Indonesia in the first four months this year, data from the Central Statistics Agency showed on Monday.
While the figure was up 3.2 percent from the same period last year, it was short of the government target of six million for the period. "The figure is not good," Tourism Minister Arief Yahya said on Monday.
The government has set a target of 18 million foreign tourist arrivals this year, up 14 percent from last year.
Boosting tourism has been one of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's favorite tactics to increase revenue from abroad, as Indonesia's commodity export continues to come under pressure.
Arief said his ministry will work with tourism operators to develop border tourism, tourism hubs and low-cost carrier terminals, and offer more packaged deals to markets around the world in order to boost foreign tourists arrivals for the remainder of this year.
Indonesia, Arief said, can still rely on geographical proximity to lure tourists from Southeast Asia while maximizing emotional proximity to attract tourists from former colonial rulers the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Portugal.
"We will focus on border tourism to attract foreign tourists from Singapore and Malaysia," Arief said.
Local tour providers also plan to offer massive discounts to attract foreign tourists during low seasons. This strategy is expected to attract two million to 2.5 million foreign tourists throughout 2019.
Last year, hot deals brought at least 700,000 foreign tourists to Indonesia, a fifth of whom went to the Riau Islands.
The government will also encourage travelers to fly to Indonesia via tourism hubs Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. "This is one solution since direct flights [to Indonesia] are sometimes difficult to get and the flight time can be long," Arief said.