Previously, Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Rizal Ramli had already stated that the countries that are to receive the visa-free entry facility include Palestina, Pakistan, Honduras, Mongolia, Costa Rica, Israel, Mozambique, Macedonia, Madagascar, Guatemala, Armenia, Jamaica and Paraguay. However, as there were some protests against the visa-free visit facility for Israel, the Indonesian government will not offer this facility to Israel on grounds that both countries do not have diplomatic relations with each other.

Tourism Minister Arief Yahya is content to see Indonesia rising in the ranks of the Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index 2015. In the latest edition Indonesia was ranked 50, up 20 places from the preceding ranking. This jump is caused by the heavily depreciated rupiah exchange rate (making it cheaper for foreigners to make a holiday in Indonesia) as well as political stability and the government's commitment to enhance infrastructure development (including soft infrastructure such as Internet infrastructure).

Indonesia still lags far behind its regional peers in terms of foreign visitor numbers. Whereas Thailand and Malaysia managed to attract 24.8 million and 27.4 million foreign tourists, respectively, in full-year 2014, Indonesia only welcomed 9.4 million foreign tourists in the same year. However, Minister Yahya said these countries had already made the tourism industry a leading industry years ago, while the Indonesian government has only recently started to realize the potential of the tourism industry.

In the January-November 2015 period, a total of 8.8 million foreign tourists entered Indonesia, up 3.23 percent from the same period in the preceding year. Although Minister Yahya remains optimistic that the government target of welcoming 10 million foreign tourists can be achieved this year, we doubt that Indonesia will see the arrival of more than one million tourists in the last month of 2015 (this would be a new record figure).

Foreign Tourist Arrivals in Indonesia, 2013-2015:

Month  Tourist Arrivals
 Tourist Arrivals
 Tourist Arrivals
January        614,328        753,079        723,039
February        678,415        702,666        786,653
March        725,316        765,607        789,596
April        646,117        726,332        749,882
May        700,708        752,363        793,499
June        789,594        851,475        815,148
July        717,784        777,210        814,233
August        771,009        826,821        850,542
September        770,878        791,296        869,179
October        719,900        808,767        825,818
November        807,422        764,461        777,480
December        766,966        915,334
Total       8,802,129       9,435,411       8,795,069

Foreign Tourist Arrivals in Indonesia, 2007-2015:

    2007   2008   2009   2010   2011   2012   2013   2014  2015
Foreign Tourists
(in millions)
  5.51   6.23   6.32   7.00   7.65   8.04   8.80   9.44  10.0¹

¹ indicates government target
Source: Statistics Indonesia (BPS)

If by April 2016 the visa-free visit facility will be granted to an additional 84 countries, then a total of 174 countries will no longer need a tourist visa before entering Indonesia. In September 2015 the government had already provided this facility to an additional 75 countries (from 15 countries previously). Through this facility, the government targets to attract 12 million foreign visitors in 2016.

The Indonesian government also has the ambitious target of welcoming 20 million foreign tourists by 2019, collecting USD $20 billion in foreign exchange.

Terrorist attacks in Jakarta to Impact on Tourist Numbers?

The recent terrorist attacks in Jakarta could mean a dip in foreign tourist arrivals at the start of 2016. From recent history we know that a portion of tourists tends to avoid Indonesia after a terrorist attack. After the 2002/2005 bombings in Bali and the 2009 Ritz-Carlton/Marriott bombings in Jakarta foreign visitor arrivals fell or stagnated in the following months. The terrorist attacks in Jakarta on 14 January 2016, however, only led to one foreign casualty (a Canadian) and one Indonesian victim and therefore foreigners may feel less threatened compared to the aforementioned terrorist attacks which took more lives.

Further Reading:

Overview of Indonesia's Tourism Industry
Terrorist Attack Jakarta: Explosions & Gunfire in Central Jakarta - Update