Indonesia’s tourism growth surpasses Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore

Lake Toba has been earmarked by Jokowi as a ‘priority tourist destination’ for overseas visitors looking for alternatives to Bali. Source: Shutterstock

INDONESIA received a whopping 4.2 million tourists in the first four months of 2017, a 19.34 percent increase compared to the same period in the previous year.

The archipelago’s visitor growth rate surpassed that of neighbors Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, according to the Central Statistics Agency.

Thailand still tops the ranks in the region in total visitor numbers (12.02 million) but Indonesia’s rapid rise dominates.

SEE ALSO: Indonesia is the latest darling of French tourists

Tourism Minister Arief Yahya said arrivals from China, India and France are potential targets while Bali, Jakarta and Riau Islands are still hotspots for Indonesia.

Arief said Chinese tourists, in particular, were drawn to marine tourism and seafood, as well as designer goods.

“Jakarta becomes a destination for Chinese tourists who love shopping. Riau Islands and Bintan are usually visited on weekends by Chinese tourists who want to buy clothes and goods,” he said.

Meanwhile, Indian tourists tend to organize or attend destination weddings in Bali, a lucrative industry for Indonesia.

SEE ALSO: Here’s why so many Indian couples are getting married in Thailand

To encourage dispersion of tourists across the country, the ministry has introduced 10 new tourists destinations to market including Bandung, Yogyakarta, Banyuwangi, and Medan.

On top of that, an additional 20 destinations, including Lake Toba, Belitung, and Komodo Island have been earmarked by President Joko Widodo as “priority tourist destinations” for overseas visitors looking for alternatives to Bali.

Last week, former US president Barack Obama’s visit to Indonesia sparked a wave of interest, particularly in the temples and sites Obama and his family had visited.

SEE ALSO: Excitement amid Obama’s family vacation in Indonesia

Arief said in a statement last week, “One of the best endorsements you can get in marketing is from celebrities. They could be an artist or a political figure, and Obama is an international figure. It will have a positive impact.”