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Slow Boat From China

Despite Expectations that the Chinese Tourist Market Would Boom, Government Adopts 'Go Slow' Policy.

(3/31/2002) While earlier predictions that increasingly friendly relations between the People's Republic of China (PRC) and Indonesia in combination with relaxed tourism procedures would bring upwards of 800,000 Chinese tourist to Indonesia annually, it now appears that the total number of Chinese visitors will be closer to 200,000.

Indonesia's Minister of Culture and Tourism, Mr. I Gede Ardika, while admitting the potential of tourism from the PRC was indeed enormous, recently revealed that the Government was targeting only 200,000 mainland Chinese visitors for the current year. In explaining the Government's "Go Slow Approach," the Culture and Tourism Minister explained, "we will control in a phased manner the total number of Chinese visitors because the airlines (serving this market) are not yet fully connected. Garuda is only now commencing its flights to Shanghai and Ghuang Zhou. So, we will not open the flood gates all at once. If we did so, we would be overwhelmed."

In accordance with rules imposed by the Government, only 46 travel agents are currently licensed to handle Chinese inbound tourists with another 40 expected to be licensed in the next phase of preparations handle the growing Chinese market.

The Government has set a target of 5.4 million visitors to Indonesia for the year 2002.(BISNIS INDONESIA)