The Association of Indonesian Tours and Travel Agencies (Asita) says that AirAsia plays a crucial role in supporting the government's programme to attract more foreign tourists to Indonesia.
"In terms of business, particularly in tourism, like it or not, we have to acknowledged that AirAsia has made a large contribution to the development of Indonesian tourism," the association's Yogyakarta branch head, Edwin Ismedi Himna, said as quoted by Antara news agency in Jakarta on Tuesday.
He said that all this time, the first no-frills airline introduced by Malaysian entrepreneur Tony Fernandes had been working on point-to-point busy flight routes, especially from Malaysia to Indonesia and vice versa and from Singapore to Indonesia and vice versa.
The two neighbouring countries were the largest contributors of foreign tourists to Indonesia, he added.
"AirAsia has contributed significantly to attracting more foreign tourists to Indonesia while at the same time it has encouraged locals to travel to various tourist destinations in the country," said Edwin.
He further said that AirAsia had provided more flight alternatives that were cheap and profitable.
He added that Asita hoped that the temporary suspension of the airline's Surabaya-Singapore route would not have a bad impact on Indonesian tourism in general and tourism players in particular.
The Transportation Ministry suspended AirAsia's Surabaya-Singapore route a few days after flight QZ8501 crashed in the Karimata Strait on Dec.28.
The suspension was introduced after the airline allegedly violated operational procedure by flying on a Sunday, when its license permitted it to fly only on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
In October, the airline revised the route schedule to fly on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays without the required permission of the ministry.