Indonesia faces a drop in tourism following attacks

Indonesia faces a drop in tourism following attacks

-NRN/Reuters

Indonesia faces a drop in tourist numbers, at least in the short term, following yesterday’s attack in central Jakarta claimed by Islamic State, in a blow to Southeast Asia’s biggest economy already growing at its slowest pace since the financial crisis.

An Indonesian and a Canadian were killed, along with five attackers, while 20 people, including a Dutchman, were wounded, while two of the militants were taken alive.

The attack could frustrate President Joko Widodo’s ambitions to nearly double tourist arrivals to 20 million people by 2019, although Indonesia’s tourism ministry said that it was sticking to that target despite the gun and bomb assault.

The government has removed visa requirements for visitors from 84 countries making a short visit, and is working to give visa-free entry to more nationalities in a bid to attract more travellers.

Indonesia, famous for the idyllic island of Bali, its dramatic volcanic landscapes and ancient temples, was estimated to have welcomed 10 million foreign tourists in 2015.

Some travel agents said they had received calls from worried tourists, but they predicted that the effects of the attack would be shortlived.

The Bay, Bali. A popular holiday destination for Australians. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The Bay, Bali. A popular holiday destination for Australians. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

“I think this incident will definitely have an impact on travel to Indonesia, especially to Jakarta,” said Terence Cheong, director of Orient Travel and Tours, a travel agency based in Kuala Lumpur and the operator of MariMari.com, a hotel booking website.

In the Netherlands, whose tourists visit Bali for its beach resorts and other big islands for a taste of the country’s colonial history, some travel agents received phone calls from concerned customers.

“It’s early days, but I don’t think it will be too bad,” said Willem Linders, who operates roughly 200 group tours to Indonesia through his travel agency Indonesia Tours.

The number of Dutch visitors to Indonesia has jumped nearly 50 percent over the past decade from a low after the Bali bombings to more than 169,000 in 2014, according to the Indonesia statistics office.

Bali, located hundreds of miles from Jakarta and a major attraction for tourists, was a target of militant attacks more than a decade ago, when a nightclub bombing killed 202 people, most of them tourists.

Noviendi Makalam, spokesman for Indonesia’s tourism ministry, expected tourist arrivals to the capital to drop over the next 2-3 months.

He estimated that Jakarta contributed around 30 percent to the country’s total foreign tourist arrivals.

Travel and tourism directly contributed around $23 billion to Indonesia’s economy in 2014, or about 3.2 percent of GDP, according to a report from the World Travel & Tourism Council.

AUSTRALIANS ADVISED TO EXERCISE A “HIGH DEGREE OF CAUTION”

Australians in Indonesia are being reminded to act cautiously, following yesterday’s attacks.

“The overall level of advice has not changed. We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Indonesia, including Bali,” the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade warned.

“Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media about possible new safety or security risks”

It comes as Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has said this morning an attack in Indonesia was imminent.

Ms Bishop said that attacks of this type had been expected by authorities, prompting an agreement to coordinate counter-terrorism efforts last month.

The warnings “been coming for some time,” she told the ABC.

“There has been an expectation that an attack would take place in our part of the world at some time,” she said.

“Experts have been expecting some type of attack at some point.”

About author

Amy Whittaker
Amy Whittaker 1402 posts

<p>Amy joined the NRN team in August 2011, before graduating from a B of Arts (Communication-Journalism)/B of Sports Studies from Charles Sturt University in December 2011.</p>

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