Jakarta (ANTARA News) – The number of tourists visiting Indonesia in March 2018 rose 13.62 percent to 1.36 million from 1.2 million a month earlier, according to the Central Statistics Agency (BPS).
The number of tourist arrivals in March 2018 also increased 28.76 percent compared to the same month last year, BPS Deputy for Distribution and Service Statistics, Yunita Rusanti, stated in a press briefing here on Wednesday.
“The increase is quite significant after the condition in Bali has recovered. Last year, the status of Mount Agung had an impact (on the tourism industry),” she said.
Most of the tourists travelled to Indonesia by plane, accounting for 846.9 thousand, or 62 percent, of the total tourist arrivals, she noted.
The number of tourists traveling to Indonesia by sea reached 304.7 thousand, or 22 percent, of the overall tourist arrivals.
BPS revealed that most of the tourist arrivals in March 2018 were from Malaysia, contributing 250,994 to the overall tourist arrivals. This was followed by China, with 180,454 tourists; Singapore, with 167,516 tourists; Timor Leste, with 138,499 tourists; and Australia, with 100,366 tourists.
“The number of Malaysian tourists has also increased due to the opening of new flight routes by the existing airline companies,” she added.
Cumulatively, the number of tourist arrivals in the January-March 2018 period reached 3.67 million, up 14.87 percent from 3.19 million in the same quarter last year.
Indonesian authorities have lowered the alert status of Bali’s Mount Agung volcano after scientists found a reduction in its activity.
More than 140,000 people have fled the area surrounding the mountain after authorities warned an eruption may be imminent in September.
However, the decision was taken on Saturday to downgrade Agung’s status after several scientific indicators showed a decrease in activity over the past month.
“People’s activities as well as tourism in Bali has been declared safe and there will no more disruption related to the volcano at this time,” Indonesian energy minister, Ignasius Jonan, said in a statement.
Indonesia’s volcano agency said smoke and tremors from the 3,031-metre-tall volcano, which indicate rising magma, have reduced significantly, but Agung remained on the second-highest alert level.
The agency said villagers living on the mountain’s slopes could return home, but warned them not to venture close to its crater, which was still emitting smoke.
Indonesian officials first raised the eruption alert to its highest possible level five months ago, when seismic activity increased at the mountain.
The activity decreased by late October, and the alert was lowered before being lifted to the highest level again in late November, forcing more than 55,000 people out of their homes and into temporary shelters.
Tourists, who were stranded when the island’s only airport closed for nearly three days, joined the rush to leave the area.
Agung, located around 45 miles northeast of Bali’s tourist hotspot of Kuta, last erupted in 1963, killing about 1,100 people.
It is one more than 120 active volcanoes in Indonesia, which is prone to eruptions and earthquakes due to its location on the “Ring of Fire”, a series of fault lines stretching from the Western Hemisphere to Japan and Southeast Asia.
Additional reporting by Associated Press