Jakarta. The government and businesses alike look forward to another rosy year in the tourism sector as many large scale international events and massive promotional campaigns highlighting the country's idyllic destinations are expected to woo potential visitors.
About 17 million tourists are slated to visit Indonesia in 2018, up 21 percent from last year, according to a projection from the Ministry of Tourism.
About one million foreign tourists cancelled their travel plans late last year due to the eruption of Mount Agung on the popular resort island of Bali, though the country is still expected to have attracted a record-high 14 million foreign tourist arrivals last year, up from 11.5 million in 2016, the ministry said.
"Tourism is now the second largest contributor to our foreign revenue after crude palm oil exports. We hope it improves this year," said Asnawi Bahar, the chairman of the Tour and Travel Agent Association (Asita).
The country's tourism sector is expected to generate $20.4 billion in foreign exchange revenue this year, assuming tourists spend about $1,200 on average while on holiday in the country, according to ministry data.
Asnawi said the industry hopes the government will continue tourism promotion programs and ensure future developments at potential tourism destinations to keep momentum going forward.
"We, the players in this industry, will ensure that all the products we sell are in line with trend that is developing in the market," he said.
The government has set aside Rp 2.5 trillion ($175 million) for promotional events this year, with priority given to the China market. Tourism Minister Arief Yahya said that 100 million Chinese tourists travel abroad each year, but only 1.5 million go to Indonesia.
"Increasing that number to 2 million is easier than other markets that have small numbers of outbound travelers," Arief said.
Other prospective markets the ministry plans to focus on in 2018 include Europe, Australia, Singapore and Malaysia.
Indonesia will host the Asian Games and the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund-World Bank this year, providing opportunities to improve branding and foreign tourist visits, Arief added.
"The guests would be fantastic endorsers for our tourism," he said.
Tjokorda Artha Ardana Sukawati, the chairman of the Bali chapter of the Indonesia Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI), said the island's hospitality industry is excited to host the IMF-World Bank event in October, expecting minimal disruption from the island's volcanoes.
"In terms of direct impact, the event would bring in about 15,000 visitors. But, more importantly, Bali will continue to be a favored tourist destination," Tjokorda said.