Despite the Central Bureau of Statistics’ (Badan Pusat Statistik – BPS) latest report suggesting a decline in the number of visits by foreign tourists to Indonesia, the government seems to be celebrating the accomplishment of exceeding their target.
BPS reveals that Indonesia is experiencing a decline in foreign tourists by 0.61 percent in the last year. The report suggests that in December 2015, Indonesia attracted 913,800 foreign tourists while the year before the number had reached as many as 915,300. BPS also highlights that the number did manage to increase by 17.46 percent from November to December 2015.
The government, on the other hand, claims that the number of visits by foreign tourists throughout 2015 exceeded their expectations, and that Indonesia has managed to attract 10,406,759 visitors in total.
Despite the seemingly high figures, BPS’ method of survey is in question. Head of BPS, Suryamin reveals that 9.73 million of the total number refers to those who belong to the regular visit category; 370,869 refers to those who visit through Pos Lintas Batas (PLB) or border checkpoints; while the rest, at 306,540, belongs to those who visit temporarily.
Tourism expert Ida Bagus Surakusuma suspects that BPS might still be combining the number of visits with those of tourists passing through border checkpoints. This could spark new questions regarding the accuracy of BPS’ statistical methods, which could also jeopardize the Ministry of Tourism’s policy plans.
“What is hoped is accurate statistical data is improved. We do not have accurate statistical data. Indonesia needs that for their policy materials, for instance in promotional increases,” Surakusuma claims.
The government insists that BPS’ report is free from manipulation and conducted based on standard global procedures. Minister of Tourism Arief Yahya assures that BPS uses methods from United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) as followed by other countries. “We use the standard set by UNWTO, [and] got that amount [10,406,759],” Yahya says.
The minister further adds that the president would like to see an increase in tourism beyond 10 percent and hopes to reach the goal of welcoming 12 million foreign tourists this year. With a tourism growth target of 20 percent in 2016, the government will be focusing on tourism acceleration.