Wednesday, February 18th, 2015 - ANTARA News Agency

Bogor, Indonesia, Feb 17, 2015 - (ACN Newswire) - Indonesian President Joko Widodo has recognized tourism as a leading sector that should be supported by all sectors, particularly those related to infrastructure and transportation.

"President Joko Widodo establishes tourism as a leading sector," Tourism Minister Arief Yahya noted after attending a limited cabinet meeting at the Bogor Palace in West Java.

"All ministries must support the tourism sector because it has become a leading sector," he stated.

If an area is designated as a national tourism strategic area, then other agencies must support it. For instance, the Public Works and Public Housing Ministry should immediately construct roads even though it was not included in the national road plan.

The Tourism Ministry has formulated a blueprint of the tourism sector. In the blueprint, there are 88 national tourism strategic areas scattered throughout all provinces of Indonesia.

"The Tourism Ministry focuses on the development of tourism in Bali, Jakarta, and Batam because those areas contribute 90 percent of the foreign tourist visits," he noted.

The ministry will then boost the tourism sector in Bandung, Surabaya, Sumatra, Central Java, and Makassar.

Yahya has set a target to achieve US$12 billion in foreign exchange earnings from 12 million tourists who are forecast to visit the country this year.

Earlier, Tourism Minister Arief Yahya had set the domestic tourist target at 254 million trips, with spending amounting to Rp201.5 trillion.

"The tourism industry is also expected to absorb 11.3 million workers directly or indirectly," he stated.

Last year, the tourism industry contributed 3.78 percent to the national economy as against the set target of 4.25 percent, and foreign exchange earnings reached US$10.69 billion.

In the same period, the government targeted to earn US$12 billion from the tourism industry. Some 11.21 million people were directly or indirectly working in the industry as compared to the set target of employing 8.74 million people.

"The achievement in 2014 has become the foundation for doubling our tourism target by 2019," Yahya remarked.

By 2019, Indonesia targets to attract 20 million foreign tourists, to increase the number of domestic tourist trips to 275 million, and to generate 13 million job opportunities and foreign exchange earnings reaching Rp240 trillion.

Beginning 2015, the government has established a free visa policy for short visits by Australians, Japanese, Koreans, Chinese, and Russians.

These countries were selected as they were the key markets of Indonesian tourism.

The government has also eased permit procedures for international yachters in order to boost the country's marine tourism industry. (Antara)

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