INDONESIA - Indonesia's presidential election in 2014 could negatively effect tourism in the Riau Islands, with potentially fewer visitors travelling to the province, especially to Batam, the deputy governor of the province has said.
Next year's election is predicted to be heated as President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono will be replaced after two terms in office.
Riau Islands Deputy Governor Soeryo Respationo asked tourism businesses and other stakeholders on Tuesday to increase their alertness during the presidential election, since possible turmoil during the lead-up to the poll could deter foreign tourists.
"The political situation next year will be heated because it will be a moment of regime change," he said.
"There will be a sharp drop in the number of visitors to the Riau Islands and Batam if there are no special tourism packages or points of interest that can offered to foreign visitors."
Soeryo said Batam's strategic position next to Malaysia and Singapore was a blessing, since many foreign tourists, around 1 million per year, flowed from the foreign neighbours into Batam.
He added, however, that tourism destinations needed to be improved to keep attracting foreign tourists.
"I think it will be difficult to reach the number of visitors next year if there are no interesting tourism objects that we can promote," he said.