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Lower Tourism Targets for 2003

Both Less Tourists and Less Forex Projected for Coming Year.

(1/6/2003) Both the "best case" and the "worst case" scenarios for projected tourist visitors to Indonesia in 2003 offer little cause for joy and provide continuing testimony to the woes affecting national tourism confronted with the after-effects of the Bali terror attacks of October 12th.

The optimistic "best case" projects total international visitors in 2003 to achieve only 4.56 million people bringing with them US$ 3.2 billion in foreign exchange earnings. This is equal to a decline of 17% in total visitors from the already downwardly revised projections for 2002 - a setback that has erased almost ten years growth in in foreign arrivals.

Government tourism officials, including Mr. Setyanto P. Santosa, the Chairman of the Indonesian Culture and Tourism Promotion Board (ICTPB), are quick to caution that even these projections may worsen if current efforts to revive the tourism industry are badly coordinated.

As a result, the Government is also releasing a cautionary "worst case" scenario that would see only 3.8 million foreign visitors laying out a paltry US$ 2.7 billion in tourism-related spending. These figures show just how quickly tourism fortunes have changed for an industry once represented as a power-house for foreign exchange generation and counted upon to earn in excess of $5 billion in much needed foreign currency each year.

A World of Vastly Different Demographics

Indonesia's new reliance on short-haul regional traffic has also had a predictably deleterious effect on both the level of average spend and the length of stay for foreign visitors. In the absence of well-healed European and U.S. visitors on extended holidays in the Country, average spendings per day are projected to drop from US$ 110 per day to just US$ 100, while length of stays will be truncated from 10 to only 7 days.

Out of the Frying Pan and Into the Fire?

With many banking on Bali's recovery to be in full swing by the second half of 2003, some observers express concern that any "remission" may be short-lived. National elections scheduled for Indonesia in 2004 are expected to bring an increase in political tensions nationwide and with them the strong possibility of at least a temporary decline in the country's attractiveness for foreign guests while national succession issues are sorted out.