Following the decline in the number of Chinese tourists caused by the increasing tension of China's trade war with the United States, the government is now trying to attract more visitors from European countries.

"We don't have to [rely on] Chinese tourists all the time. We will shift our target to European countries like Britain, which we have not really utilized, "Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy Wishnutama Kusubandio told on Wednesday.

According to Wishnutama, the characteristics of Indonesia's tourist destinations, most of which boast natural wonders, are in accordance with the European market, which mostly prefers outdoor activities such as sailing on Labuan Bajo in East Nusa Tenggara and Tanjung Puting in Central Kalimantan.

However, marketing the archipelago as a tourist destination for Europeans will be more expensive because it requires more effort, he added.

"But this is a market with potential. We can see now that Labuan Bajo has welcomed most Western tourists," Wishnutama said, adding that the ministry also wanted to attract more tourists from the United States and Australia who had the same interests.

According to the Central Statistics Agency (BPS), Indonesia welcomed 1,565,200 tourists from Europe between January and September 2019. The number was slightly less than 1,566,900 people in the previous year.

During the same period, Indonesia reportedly welcomed 482,500 American tourists, which was a 12.93 percent increase compared to last year.

Although Wishutama said that he would shift his focus to marketing Indonesian tourist destinations in Europe and other Western countries, he also said he would continue to encourage tourists from China.

Apart from the new strategy, Wishnutama said that the government would continue to encourage the growth of Chinese tourist visits to the islands, with Likupang and Manado in North Sulawesi being prepared as the main destination to attract them.

Also read: a favorite place for Chinese tourists in Indonesia

Based on BPS data, the number of Chinese tourist visits between January and May 2019 only grew 2.2 percent. Following the decline, Malaysia replaced China as the number one contributor to foreign tourism to Indonesia thanks to its growth of 23.04 percent during the same period.

In early December, chairman of the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Industry Association Haryadi Sukamdani estimated that the number of Chinese tourists visiting Indonesia might drop by 15 to 20 percent.

"[The decline], which is predicted to reach nearly 1.5 million visitors, is purely due to economic factors," Haryadi said.

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