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Where's the Chinese Market?

Total Mainland Chinese Arrivals Fail to Meet Expectations.

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Despite the great store placed in a promised flood of mainland Chinese (PRC) visitors to Bali, the actual numbers continue to fail to impress.

In 2003, a total of 49,573 PRC visitors came to Indonesia, a number just short of the modest target of 50,000 set by the Government. According to figures reported at a recent "Travel Dialogue and Travel Mart," held in Beijing, only 1,342 of the total visitors from the PRC in 2003 used tourist visas with the lion's share registering their purpose of visit as reunions with family members or for business purposes.

When compared with other competing destinations in the region, like Malaysia and Thailand, where numbers approaching 1 million PRC tourist visits each year, Indonesia's ability to attract the mainland Chinese tourists seem particularly lacking.

At the same seminar and as quoted by the Indonesian-language newspaper Kompas, the Chairperson of the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI) Ms. Yanti Sukamdani, said there were a number of factors holding back the growth of PRC tourism to Indonesia: "In addition to the lack of promotion of Indonesian travel products, there is also the factor of Indonesian tourist visa only being issued in Beijing, not yet available in other areas, such as Shanghai and Guangzhou." The PHRI Chairperson went on to add that promotion by Indonesian agents has been lacking. "From 89 travel agents with permits (to handle the PRC market), only 3 agencies are currently active," said Ms. Sukamdani.

Also cited as a negative factor affecting travel by Chinese to Indonesia is visa cost. Currently a visa issued by the Indonesia embassy costs 233% more than a visa to visit Malaysia.

The target for Chinese tourist to Indonesia in 2004 is 344,904 visitors.

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