Tourists spend most on sleeping and eating

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Despite coming thousands of kilometers to visit Indonesia, foreign visitors spend most of their money here on the rather mundane activities of sleeping and eating, a survey has found.

Findings released by Visa Indonesia revealed that overseas visitors coming to Indonesia spend most of their money on accommodation, with 852,000 transactions being recorded in hotels, with a value of US$198 million, or about 34 percent of the total tourist spend, while 433,000 transactions worth a total of $36 million, or 6 percent of the total spend, took place in restaurants.

The survey also revealed how foreign tourists spend their money when shopping in Indonesia.

The highest spend is on men's and women's clothing at $14 million, followed by objets d'art at $13.6 million. Meanwhile, the highest growth was recorded by woman's accessories and specialty stores with a 160 percent increase, and luggage and leather goods stores, where spending increased by 102 percent, as compared to a year earlier.

In-store shopping transactions contributed to 16 percent of the total spend, or about $90 million.

The Visa Indonesia Tourism Spend Report, which is being published for the first time, contains data from the VisaNet database, which shows what international cardholders used their Visa cards on when visiting Indonesia.

The findings, which are based on 2005 figures, also show that total Visa International inbound spending in Indonesia increased by 20 percent to Rp 5.6 trillion ($579 million), as compared to the previous year, despite a 6 percent drop in foreign visitor arrivals.

Five million visitors came to Indonesia in 2005, as compared with 5.3 million in 2004.

Asia-Pacific cardholders were the biggest spenders in Indonesia, accounting for Rp 2.9 trillion, or 51 percent of the total international spend. Cardholders from the European Union were the second biggest international spenders at Rp 1.6 trillion.

Meanwhile, Australians were the biggest spending tourists notching up total transactions of Rp 910 billion, followed by American and Japanese tourists in second and third place with spends of Rp 820 billion and Rp 715 billion respectively.

"These figures signal strong tourist-market interest and potential for growth in Indonesia. We hope that merchants and the tourism authorities in Indonesia can use them to accurately plan and grow their businesses, and protect them from market fluctuations," Visa Indonesia country manager Ellyana C. Fuad said.

The average size of transactions by international Visa cardholders in Indonesia rose to Rp 1.3 million in 2005 from Rp 1.2 million in 2004.

Visa South and Southeast corporate relations director Paul Wilke said that most of the spending was highly concentrated on key tourism and business destinations.

Bali remained the biggest tourist market in Indonesia, receiving 47 percent, or $261 million, of the total Visa spend in Indonesia. Jakarta, and Batam in the Riau Islands were the next biggest markets on $186 million (33 percent) and $12 million (12 percent) respectively.

"Without a doubt, Indonesia has great potential in tourism. The best way to support this is by addressing the misperceptions of Indonesia in relation to bird flu, tsunamis, and terrorism," Wilke said, adding that by addressing these misperceptions, the situation this year could probably be kept on a par with 2005.

In the second quarter of this year, Visa International inbound spending dropped by less than 1 percent to Rp 1.4 trillion, while in the first quarter, it rose by one percent to Rp 1.3 trillion.(09)
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