JAKARTA (THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) The number of foreign tourist arrivals in Indonesia rose to 789,600 in March, up by 3.13 percent from a year earlier, with Singapore the top contributor.
Malaysian tourists constituted the second-largest group, followed by China, Australia and Japan, the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) said Monday.
Singapore, with a population of 5.5 million people, has alternated with China in recent years as the top source of tourist arrivals in Indonesia, BPS head Suryamin told a monthly press briefing.
Singaporeans were fond of Bali for vacationing, he said, but Bandung, famous for its factory outlets, had also become a popular shopping destination.
Economic slowdown and political tension in Indonesia had not affected the arrivals of Singaporean visitors, Suryamin said, adding that the numbers would continue to flow until June in line with school holidays.
The number of foreign tourist arrivals in the first three months of 2015 reached 2.3 million, up by 3.5 per cent over the same period of 2014, according to the BPS.
This puts the government just on course to reach its target of 10 million tourist arrivals this year from 9.43 million in 2014.
Bali remains Indonesia's main gateway for foreign tourists, with Ngurah Rai airport in Denpasar receiving 294,758 visitors in March from 268,418 in the same month last year.
Juanda International Airport in Surabaya saw foreign tourist arrivals drop to 45,707 in the first three months of 2015, down by 12 percent from a year earlier, after the government stopped several international flights following the AirAsia disaster in December.
The BPS also said the occupancy rate of star-rated hotels in 27 provinces in Indonesia averaged 49 percent in March, marginally better than in February but lower than the same period last year. It did not offer an explanation for the low rate.
The average length of stay in Indonesia was 1.96 days, the agency said.
Tourism Minister Arief Yahya said Indonesia expected to attract 20 million foreign tourists by 2019, with an annual growth rate predicted at 12 percent.
The minister said that Indonesia would participate in a number of world-tourism expositions in order to help reach the target. "We are optimistic that the tourism sector can play a significant role in boosting Indonesia's economy," he said recently.
The ministry will also focus on developing tourism in the maritime, ecology and adventure sectors, in addition to promoting shopping, sports, body treatment, leisure and culinary activities, among others.
The Central Statistics Agency recorded 9.4 million tourists arrived in Indonesia last year, a 7.19 per cent increase from 2013.