An Indonesian Miracle: Over 10 Million International Tourists in 2015

Indonesia tourism considerably slowdowned last year due to many factors such as a slowdown in arrivals from some of its neighbours -particularly Malaysia- and a softening in demand from Europe as many Westerners are currently prefer to avoid travelling to Muslim destinations. In September and October, heavy haze due to forest fires in Sumatra and Kalimantan further depressed the market.

Despite having relaxed last year entrance conditions to the country – by cancelling visa requirements for over 100 nations around the world- international tourist arrivals was growing only by 2.5% to 3.5% until November.

And suddenly the miracle: December experienced a surge in total arrivals of 7.76% while the whole year 2015 finally foreign visitor arrivals finally up by 10.29% to overpass the magic figure of 10 million international arrivals. At the ASEAN Travel Forum, Indonesia Minister of Tourism Arief Yahya proudly announced that Indonesia welcomed over 10.4 million international visitors last year. On the statistic page of the Ministry, numbers are indeed confirmed: 10,406,059 foreign travellers. Except that suddenly, a total of 677,000 travellers have been added who did not figure the year before.

They are counted as “Foreigners who enter through cross border post” and “other short foreigner visitors (< 1 year)”. First of all, both the wording to describe those visitors are rather incomprehensible. Are these numbers just mentioning about border visitors who just pass everyday for work or just shopping trip – for example all Singaporeans going for a day to neighbouring islands of Batam and Bintan ? And does the second category mention about non permanent residents allowed for a renewable one-year visa due to work purposes?

The statistical mystery remains complete especially as data for the year provided by Indonesia Central Office of Statistics are different from the one put on the Ministry of Tourism home page. Under the category tourism, the BPS (Statistic offices) recorded only 9.73 million international arrivals in 2015, which represents an increase of 3.1% over 2014…

All the data provided by the Minister have now be revised as they all carry the mention on the website for 2015. Of course, everyone will understand the importance for Indonesia to officially show that it was visited last year -for the first time in its tourism industry – by more than 10 million foreign travellers. This is particularly important as the Indonesian government promised to reach the magic 10-million visitors’ mark. At least the Ministry respected its promise!