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New Delhi: Indonesia may be attracting almost double the number of global tourists than India but visitors from here are few and the southeast Asian country has decided to grant free visas to Indians to attract more travelers from India which is a "big market" for them.
Vinsensius Jemadu, Indonesia's tourism director, was in India to promote Indonesian tourism and attract more Indians. He says Indonesia and India enjoy very good relations which will help in attracting more tourists. Indonesia is also participating in the South Asian Tourism and Travel Expo (SATTE) 2016.
Jemadu said that more than 10 million people from across the globe visit Indonesia every year - but only 270,000 from India. Indonesia attracts the highest number of tourists from Singapore, followed by Malaysia, Australia, China, Japan, South Korea and then India.
"Realising that India is a big market, the Indonesian government decided to grant free visas to Indians. We have set a target to attract 350,000 tourists from India this year, which is a big challenge for us," he said. "Most of the people from India visit Bali. May be it is because they do not know about other places there. We want them to explore other places of the country as well," he said.
Indonesia's tourism industry contributes nine percent to the country's GDP. "Our plans are to boost tourism industry and increase it to 15 percent of the GDP by the end of 2019."
"As many as 60 percent of the total tourists visit Indonesia because of its rich cultural heritage while 35 percent come to the country to see its natural beauty. Five percent tourists come here to enjoy manmade activities," Jemadu told IANS.
Expressing concern over lack of direct connectivity between India and Indonesia, Jemadu said: "So far there is no direct flight between the two countries. People from India reach Indonesia via Singapore or Malaysia which is not good for tourism because people have to spend more time and money in travelling."
He, however, added that this issue will be sorted out soon as both the governments have agreed to start direct flight between the two nations.
"I am hopeful that the direct flight between Mumbai and Bali will start by March or April. Garuda Indonesian airline had agreed to operate flights between the two countries," he said.