While there's much to celebrate in the record 5.32 million foreign tourist arrivals to Indonesia in 2004, a closer look at these same figures on an ASEAN-wide basis suggests that among a groups of destinations in which everyone improved, Indonesia's numerical advances were, by comparison, pretty lackluster.
In fact, when Indonesia's 2004 performance is seen against the background of the comparative performance of the other 9 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a number of observations emerge:
• Indonesia's Below Average Performance - While ASEAN arrivals improved an average 23.81% from 2003 to 2004, Indonesia rate of improvement came in at a distant below average rate of 15.69% .
• Indonesia: Below the Rate of Overall Improvement for ASEAN in 2004 - As a whole, ASEAN tourist arrivals increased 26.16% in 2004, up from 32.28 million in 2003 to 43.85 million in 2004. Meanwhile, Indonesia's rate of recovery at 15.69% for 2004 was substantially off the pace for the ASEAN region.
• Indonesia's Diminishing Market Share - Indonesia's market share of foreign visitor arrivals, when seen from the perspective of all visitors to ASEAN, shrunk from 2003 to 2004. Indonesia's 13.28% market share of all visitors to ASEAN in 2003 dropped to just 11.63% in 2004. That represents a decrease in market share of 12.42%.
• Only Myanmar Did Worse than Indonesian in ASEAN - In fact, in comparing rates of improvement between 2003 and 2004, among the field of 10 contenders comprising the ASEAN grouping, Indonesia came in at 9th place, leaving last place to much-troubled Myanmar.
Visa on Arrival Impact
Thus, while there's no argument that Indonesia's tourism fortunes did improve in 2004 from just a year before, when seen within the field of the performance of competing destinations in ASEAN, where everyone enjoyed growth, Indonesia's still appears to be something of the sick boy among ASEAN tourism performers.
These figures also provide ample opportunity to those wishing to refute the government's boastful claims that the introduction of the unpopular visa-on-arrival policy has had no negative effect on foreign tourist arrivals. While perhaps impossible to cite any one specific cause for Indonesia's relatively poor performance, these ASEAN-wide comparative results in combination with reports showing European and American arrivals to Indonesia still languishing at levels of 5-6 years ago, do suggest that the visa-fee is almost certainly slowing the pace of Indonesia's tourism recovery.
Foreign Tourist Arrivals in ASEAN
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