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Indonesian Economy Being Short Changed by Failed Tourism Targets

Lawmaker Says Tourism Targets for Visitors and Earnings Unrealistic.

(12/22/2007) An Indonesian parliamentarian has judged that government targets of US$6 billion in foreign exchange earning from tourism during Visit Indonesia Year 2008 (VIY 2008) are optimistically unrealistic. As reported by the National news agency Antara, a member of Commission X of the Indonesian House of Representatives (DPR), Heri Akhmadi, complained that foreign tourism is dominated by backpackers with extended stays and relatively low spending levels. Moreover, according to Akhmadi, the government has fallen far short of the 7 million tourist target urged by Vice President Jusuf Kalla for 2007.

VP Kalla bullishly insisted early in 2007 that the Ministry of Culture and Tourism revise its stated target of 5.5 million for the year to 7 million visitors. With 2007 now drawing to a close it now appears that Indonesia may fall shy of even the original 5.5 million visitors.

Beyond basic questions of limitations in the inherent growth potential in Indonesian tourism as a whole, tourism growth has been negatively impacted in 2007 by a number of factors including the "blacklisting" of Indonesia aviation by the European Union; lagging performance in domestic aviation; and numerous natural disasters that have befallen the Nation over the past year.

National arrival statistics through the end of October 2007 had only managed to achieve 3.7 million tourists, making it unlikely that the year will achieve its original 5.5 million target, let alone the 7 million number championed by Vice President Kalla.

Meanwhile, the Department of Culture and Tourism had projected foreign exchange tourism earnings for 2007 of between US$3.7 billion and US$5.46 billion, covering forecasted expectations labeled "pessimistic" to "optimistic."

Akhmadi expressed his strong doubts that the government will manage to achieve 5.4 million tourists in 2007 automatically meaning that foreign exchange earnings will also come up short. This failure, according to the lawmaker, will hurt many sectors of the economy ranging from hotels, restaurants to small-scale workers in the handicraft industry.

Bali tourism, meanwhile, has managed to buck the trend of mediocre tourism performance nationally. Bali arrivals will set new records for the year 2007, expected to end the year with foreign tourism arrival totals nearing 1.7 million.