Embassy blast not seen as hurting Indonesian tourism

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) - Last week's suicide bombing outside the Australian Embassy in the Indonesian capital likely will not have a long-term effect on the country's vital tourist industry, the government said Tuesday. 

"We are not knocked out, but have suffered a jab ... we are still standing up,'' tourism minister I Gde Ardika told reporters. 

Ardika said he was confident that the blast, which killed nine people and wounded 170 others, would not affect projected tourist arrivals of more than 5 million next year. 

With over US$4 billion in annual earnings, Indonesia's tourism sector has emerged as one of the country's largest non-energy foreign-currency earners. 

It was hit hard by the Oct. 12, 2002, Bali bombings that killed 202 people, and the Aug. 15, 2003, bombing of Jakarta's Marriott hotel. 

That assault killed 12 people. The industry was additionally hurt by the political fallout from the invasion of Iraq and Asia's SARS outbreak in 2003. 

Official statistics now show that arrivals are now up to pre-2002 levels. 

Ardika said that by 2009 the government expected up to 13 million foreign arrivals a year, most of them to Bali island, whose beaches, nightlife and unique Hindu-Buddhist culture first attracted tourists in the 1930s. - AP 

For Another perspective from the Jakarta Post, a partner of Asia News Network, click here


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