Indonesia sees January drop in foreign tourist arrivals

Singaporean tourists arriving in Bali

The number of foreign tourists on a year-on-year basis slid by 3.99 per cent this January, down from 753,100 recorded in January last year to 723,000, according to Central Statistics Agency (BPS) data released Monday.

BPS deputy head of statistics Sasmito Hadi Wibowo said in a press conference that the decline was due to the Chinese Lunar New Year, which this year took place in February and was one of the main boosters for tourist arrivals.

"Last year the Lunar New Year took place at the end of January, but in 2015 the holiday took place in February," Sasmito said. "We hope to see an increase in the number of foreign tourist arrivals in February," he added.

BPS data showed that Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali, the country's main gateway international gateway, recorded 288,800 visitors in January, up by 3.61 per cent from 278,700 in the same period last year.

The figure, however, decreased 15 per cent as compared with the number of tourist arrivals at the airport in December last year, which reached 341,111.

The highest decrease in foreign tourist arrivals was recorded at Minangkabau International Airport in West Sumatra, which recorded only 2,744, down 50 per cent from 5,497 in the same period last year.

The data also showed that the aggregate star-hotel room occupancy rate in 27 provinces was 47.08 per cent on average in January, a 0.10 per cent increase from the same month last year, and a 3.05 per cent decrease from December 2014.

Of the 723,000 foreign travelers in January, 14.73 per cent were Singaporeans, followed by Australians at 12.72 per cent, Malaysians at 12.59 per cent, Chinese at 12.49 per cent and South Koreans at 5.32 per cent.

Tourism Minister Arief Yahya previously said he was optimistic the country would be able to meet the target for Australian tourist arrivals this year, despite protests and boycotts of Bali by Australian citizens following the impending execution of two leaders of the so-called Bali Nine drug ring.

Arief said that Indonesia welcomed 1 million Australian tourists last year and that the government would not revise this year's target of 1.2 million Australian visitors.

"Tourism is based on people-to-people relationships, not government-to-government [ones]. Statistically, I think we will still able to reach the target," Arief said.

The number of foreign tourist arrivals last year rose by 7.19 per cent to 9.44 million, up from 8.8 million in 2013. This year, the ministry hopes to attract around 10 million foreign visitors.

Arief said that since last year's December figures reached nearly 1 million, the government was hoping it could attract at least 1 million tourists every month this year.