Bali Hosts Thousands for Imlek Celebrations

Bali Hosts Thousands for Imlek Celebrations

Indonesia’s most popular tourism destination, Bali, has received an influx of thousands of Chinese tourists celebrating Chinese New Year, a government official has said.

Tourism Minister Arief Yahya said at least 65 commercial flights — including by airlines from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and other Southeast Asian countries — carried tens of thousands of Chinese tourists from 11 cities in China to Bali.

“It appears that Bali is a favorite destination for people from the bamboo curtain country, which sends more than 114 million tourists every year,” Arief said.

He said this could help Indonesia to market tourist destinations in the rest the archipelago to Chinese visitors.

Indonesia draws only a small percentage of the huge number of Chinese tourists looking to head overseas. Only 1.14 million Chinese tourists visit Indonesia annually, far less than to neighboring countries such as Thailand, which welcomes 8 million tourists a year.

“China is a potential market, a huge market. That’s why it needs special treatment,” Arief said.

Meanwhile, during the peaceful celebrations of Chinese New Year, known locally as Imlek, Indonesian leaders sent greetings via Twitter, wishing for peace and praising the country’s cultural diversity and tolerance.

“Happy Chinese New Year, or Imlek, to the Chinese community all over Indonesia,” President Joko Widodo said via his Twitter account.

“Bhineka Tunggal Ika [Unity in Diversity], we are proud of that,” Joko said, referring to the official national motto of Indonesia.

Chinese New Year became an acknowledged holiday in Indonesia during the reign of Abdurrahman Wahid, who issued a presidential decree to that effect in 2001.

Former President Megawati Sukarnoputri marked Imlek as an officially recognized holiday in 2002.

Indonesia’s sixth president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, also sent a New Year’s message via his Twitter account.

“Happy Chinese New Year, Imlek, 2567. Hopefully life becomes more peaceful, happy and prosperous for all my brothers [and sisters], who celebrate it,” Yudhoyono said on Monday.

In Jakarta, thousands of Chinese-Indonesians visited the Dharma Bhakti Temple for the first day of the Lunar New Year.

The police and the Civil Service Police Unit (Satpol PP) secured the proceedings.

Source :Jakarta Globe

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