Based on the latest data from Indonesia's Statistics Agency (BPS) - these data cover the month October 2016 - most tourists that visited Indonesia originated from China (12.4 percent of total foreign visitor arrivals), followed by Malaysia (12.1 percent), Singapore (11.4 percent), Australia (11.0 percent), and Japan (4.1 percent).

Foreign tourist arrivals in Indonesia are related to the presence of terrorist attacks. When in the 2000s Islamic radicals killed hundreds of people (including many foreign tourists) through bombings in Bali and Jakarta, foreign visitors arrivals declined rapidly in the aftermath of a terrorist attack. Since 2009 there have not been any significant terrorist attacks in Indonesia that were directed towards foreigners and therefore we see gradually rising tourist numbers in Indonesia after 2010.

Indeed, terrorists committed another vicious attack on the streets of Central Jakarta in January 2016 in which several people were killed but this did not make foreigners avoid Indonesia. This could be explained by the fact that these terrorists were aiming at Indonesian police, not at foreigners. Moreover, Western countries have now also been the scene of terror attack (for example France and Belgium) and therefore foreigners may realize that a trip to Indonesia is not riskier compared to a trip to a city such as Paris.

Still, a stable society does of course help to attract foreign tourists. Therefore, it is good that the massive anti-Ahok demonstration on Friday (02/12) went peacefully. Previously, ethnic and religious tensions had flared up in Indonesia due to "Ahok's blasphemy case".

Indonesian Tourism Minister Arif Yahya said he is confident that the government's target of welcoming 12 million foreign visitors in 2016 will be achieved. He added the government is currently busy promoting ten tourist destinations to tourists.

10 Priority Tourist Destinations of the Indonesian Government:

Destination Tourists
Tourist Target
Central Java
227,337     2,000,000
125,307     1,000,000
Labuan Bajo
 54,147      500,000
East Java
 33,387     1,000,000
Thousands Islands
off the coast of Jakarta
 16,384      500,000
Toba Lake
North Sumatra
 10,680     1,000,000
  3,315      500,000
Tanjung Lesu
  1,739     1,000,000
Halmahera, Maluku
   500      500,000
Tanjung Kelayang
Bangka Belitung
   451      500,000

Source: Investor Daily

By 2020 the Indonesian government wants to attract 20 million tourists from abroad. Yahya says this should be possible considering Indonesia has plenty to offer to tourists, such as beautiful natural scenery, numerous local cultures, as well as interesting cuisine.

Another factor that helps to attract foreign tourist arrivals into Indonesia is the government's decision to allow visa-free access to Indonesia for 169 countries through Presidential Regulation no.69/2015 on Exemptions of Visit Visa. Furthermore, Indonesia also introduced a new regulation on yacht and cruise ships. This new regulation lifts cabotage rights for international cruises and yachts, meaning international cruise liners are now able to lift and disembark passengers in five Indonesian seaports. Previously, only Indonesian-flagged ships were allowed by law to lift and disembark passengers in Indonesian waters.

Read more: Overview & Analysis of Indonesia's Tourism Industry

However, a lot of investment in Indonesia's tourism sector is required to attract tourists. This investment particularly involves both soft and hard infrastructure as well as the establishment of hotels, tourist attractions and educating local human resources. It is estimated up to IDR 200 trillion (approx. USD $14.8 billion) is needed to improve the tourism sector. Earlier, the central government indicated it can only provide IDR 30 trillion and therefore the private sector is envisaged to play a large role. Therefore, it is key for the government to provide a conducive investment climate.

Below we present foreign visitor arrivals into Indonesia in recent years. Please note that Indonesia's Statistics Agency (BPS) adjusted the definition of foreign visitor arrival per January 2016. This explains the sharp increase in foreign visitor arrivals between 2016 and 2015.

Foreign Tourist Arrivals in Indonesia, 2013-2016:

Month Tourist Arrivals
Tourist Arrivals
Tourist Arrivals
Tourist Arrivals
January       614,328       753,079       723,039       814,303
February       678,415       702,666       786,653       888,309
March       725,316       765,607       789,596       915,019
April       646,117       726,332       749,882       901,095
May       700,708       752,363       793,499       915,206
June       789,594       851,475       815,148       857,651
July       717,784       777,210       814,233     1,032,741
August       771,009       826,821       850,542     1,031,986
September       770,878       791,296       869,179     1,006,653
October       719,900       808,767       825,818     1,040,651
November       807,422       764,461       777,976
December       766,966       915,334       913,828
Total      8,802,129      9,435,411      9,729,350

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   9.73

Source: Statistics Indonesia (BPS)