(MENAFN - Arab News) The Indonesian Consulate in Jeddah in coordination with the country's Ministry of Culture and Tourism organized a two-day tourism exhibition at Aziz Mall last weekend.
"It is a good chance for Saudi families and children to discover more about the world's largest Muslim country in terms of population, tourism opportunities, civilization and cultural heritage, and meet a number of Indonesian travel and tourism agencies," said A. Fauzy Chusny, information officer from Indonesia Information and Cultural Affairs.
The exhibition was inaugurated by Nia Niscaya, director of international tourism promotion at the Indonesian Ministry of Culture and Tourism and Cahyono Rustam, Indonesian consul.
Indonesian traditional clothing, food, brochures and other printed materials on tourism information were distributed and 11 Indonesian travel and tourism agencies introduced their services and special offers to attract Saudi tourists.
In addition, there were tourism meetings conducted at Le Meridien Hotel Jeddah on Wednesday and Saturday at Le Meridien Makkah, where Saudi travel operators had one-to-one discussions with their Indonesian counterparts.
"We want to enhance the number of visitors from Saudi Arabia. In spite of financial woes the world has been through, Indonesia since the beginning of this year has been enjoying robust economic growth with the growing number of foreign tourists flocking into the country. The Middle East market has been our main market for the past five years," said Niscaya.
"According to the Center of Data and Information from the Indonesian Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy, 15,114 Saudi tourists visited Indonesia during the first two months of 2012. The figure is higher than the same period of 2011 which registered 11,094 visitors," she added.
According to the Central Statistic Agency (BPS), on a cumulative basis for 2011, 7.65 million foreign tourists visited Indonesia, a 9 percent improvement over 2010 and which is considered a record for the past 10 years. The number is expected to climb to 8 million in 2012.
"In 2010, tourist arrivals from the Middle East, most of who were from Saudi Arabia, reached 144,661. The figure is estimated to rise significantly to 175,000 this year, especially after the breakout of the Arab Spring in some Middle East countries," said Niscaya.
"Tourism makes a big contribution to the Indonesian economy and it is a significant source of foreign exchange. The government estimates that in 2011 foreign tourists brought 8.6 billion to the country, a figure 13.16 percent higher than the total for 2010. It is expected to continue rising in years to come," she explained.
With more than 17,500 islands, Indonesia has many natural tourist attractions as the world's largest archipelago country.
Considering the significant contribution of tourism to the country's economy, Indonesia has officially launched "Visit Indonesia 2012," during which over 100 cultural events will take place in 33 regions across the country.
"With such a vast diversity of cultures, people and the most outstanding scenery, Indonesia will definitely be a country that every holiday maker will return to again and again. We want to tell our Muslim visitors that in Indonesia, with a 90 percent Muslim population, they don't have to be worried about food at all. The most important thing is our people who are so hospitable and friendly that visitors will feel at home," she added.