It’s a pleasure to be here to recognize the 2014 North America tour Suppliers Asia Pacific Sales Mission.
Let me express our thanks to G2 and East West Marketing for the invitation to join today’s event. And a warm welcome to all of you to Jakarta.
You come at an important time. Indonesia’s new President Jokowi had a very good meeting with President Obama last week in Beijing at the APEC Summit. President Obama praised the strong friendship and partnership between our two nations.
Indonesia is becoming an increasingly important trade and investment partner for the U.S. It has a near trillion dollar economy, a large and fast growing middle class and a youthful population.
In recent days we had a large investment delegation from the 20/20 Investment Association and then last week a US investment summit so American companies are showing their early and active interest in further deepening our ties under President Jokowi’s new Government.
One of the U.S. Embassy’s top priorities is to help US business. So we are delighted to be here and to support increasing the connections between Indonesia’s travel experts and some of the best destinations and suppliers the U.S. has to offer. And we are excited to support even more travelers to visit the USA.
The US is one of the world’s top travel and tourism destinations and it is easy to see why. Whether you are visiting some of our iconic cities like Los Angeles, New York or Chicago for some shopping and good food; visiting Las Vegas; or seeing our incomparable National Parks like Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon, the US has something for everyone.
Many of you may be aware that the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta has launched several initiatives to promote travel to the United States including:
- providing visa application training to travel agents and tour operators,
- streamlining the interview process for large tour groups, and
- introducing a new visa interview waiver program for qualified applicants who have been previously granted a US visa.
But even first time visitors should not be worried about getting a visa. We approve about 90% of tourist visa applications in Indonesia, usually very quickly.
And we are so pleased more and more Indonesians are taking advantage of these great opportunities.
The number of Indonesian travelers to the U.S. has been increasing steadily since 2009. Last year, we welcomed over 95,000 visitors from Indonesia. That represented a 20% increase over 2012.
And for the first time, Indonesian visitors have exceeded the number of visitors from Thailand. These figures include visitors from leisure, corporate and education sectors. According to our National Travel and Tourism Office, visitors from Indonesia are expected to grow to 137,000 visitors by 2018.
For today’s conference we have representatives from 19 destinations, featuring every part of the United States – North, South East and West. They include some of our premier destinations for leisure and business travel.
All of my colleagues and I at the U.S. embassy extend you a very warm selamat datang to the United States.