Jayanty Nada Shofa, Jakarta – Indonesia has set an ambitious goal of attracting up to 7.4 million foreign tourists in 2023, almost double the number the country recorded this year.
"Our target for next year is to have between 3.5 million and 7.4 million foreign tourists visiting Indonesia. We are aiming to generate between $2.07 billion and $5.95 billion in foreign exchange earnings in 2023," Tourism Minister Sandiaga Uno told reporters in Jakarta on Monday.
The government reported that Indonesia welcomed around 3.92 million foreign tourists this year, as of Oct. 2022. This means that Indonesia had already exceeded its 2022 target of having 3.6 million foreign tourists arrivals, even before the year-end holiday rush.
Data showed that the tourism sector contributed $4.26 billion to Indonesia's foreign exchange earnings. This marked an almost tenfold jump from 2021 figures, which only amounted to $490 million. Sandiaga attributed the high foreign exchange earnings to Indonesia getting better at Covid-19 pandemic handling, among others. The country's decision to reintroduce the visa-on-arrival scheme led to an increase in foreign tourists.
"And us hosting the G20 and other international events, including the Mandalika MotoGP, has been a boon for the tourism sector," the minister said.
But 2023 will not be without its challenges. According to Sandiaga, China's zero Covid-19 policy and the shift in consumer behavior amid a recession will become some of the biggest roadblocks to Indonesia's tourism sector next year.
China – one of the largest tourist markets in the Asia Pacific – has recently eased its stringent zero Covid-19 policy. But the country is now seeing a resurgence of new infections. At the same time, people worldwide might prefer to save money and hold back on traveling amid a recession.
"But there are still opportunities for us. We have domestic tourists to support the tourism sector. Because our economy is still growing, while other countries are seeing a slowdown," Sandiaga said.
Booking platform Trip.com revealed that Chinese searches for domestic air tickets jumped by 160 percent after the government loosened its Covid-19 curbs, indicating a pent-up travel demand.
"High airfares may be another classic problem. However, this actually changes the structure and quality of foreign tourist visits to Indonesia. Not only do they stay longer, but they can have a much bigger impact on the economy and the local people," Sandiaga said.
According to the Tourism Ministry, Indonesia is forecast to have at least 123,000 travel bookings by foreign tourists in 2023. Australia, South Korea, the UK, France, and Germany will likely be the top-five foreign tourist markets until next November.
Europe will account for 41.73 percent of the total travel bookings to Indonesia next year. Followed by Oceania (25.73 percent), Asia excluding ASEAN (21.7 percent), and ASEAN (2.43 percent). Tourists from ASEAN member states tend to make last-minute bookings.
Indonesia hopes to attract the most tourists from Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, India, and the UK.
Data also showed that Indonesia saw around 633 million to 703 million domestic tourist trips this year. The Southeast Asian country plans to raise this number to between 1.2 billion and 1.4 billion trips in 2023.