The Chairman of the Indonesian Association of Travel Agents (ASITA), Ben Sukma, has expressed pessimism that the national target of 6.7 million foreign visitors for all of Indonesia in 2009 won't be achieved.
Quoted in Bali Post, Sukma said: "Anywhere in the world where there is a national election, tourism visitors automatically avoid that destination out of fear of possible conflict. So how can we achieve this target?"
Ben defended his pessimistic view by pointing to arrivals in 2008 when Indonesia's situation was calm and peaceful and was supported by the "Visit Indonesian Year 2008." In that relatively conducive situation, Indonesia achieved only 6.23 million foreign tourists who spent an estimated US$7.5 billion dollars. In that year, Indonesia's tourism arrivals fell short of the targeted 7 million set by the government, but did manage to improve over 2007 when 5.51 million foreign visitors came to the country.
The possibility that the Presidential elections set for July 8th will extend to a second run-off round of voting only serves to increase Sukma's trepidation in the face of the 6.7 million visitor target for 2009. "With these conditions and with observers suggesting that the presidential elections will go to a second round, this must certainly make foreign tourists reconsider an Indonesian holiday for security reasons," explained Sukma.
Sukma said that the government and tourism industry leaders should better use the current period to repair and upgrade the national infrastructure that supports tourism.
In seeming contradiction to Sukma's pessimistic outlook, Bali hotels are reporting high occupancies with record number of visitors coming to the island.
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