Jakarta — The maiden flight of Lion Air’ route from China to Batam has safely landed in Hang Nadim International Airport in Batam, Riau Islands on Thursday (13/07). The plane carried up to 212 tourists from China, which is the first round of 1,700 foreign tourists who are scheduled to travel to Batam. Upon arrival, the passengers were welcomed by Batam Tourist Agency head and BP Batam Promotion and Human Resources director, among others. “This maiden flight took three months to prepare. The flight used Boeing 737-900 ER JT 2733 that carried 212 tourists from Changsha to Batam. They landed at 4:45 a.m.,” said Lion Batam Airport manager Nico Giyansyah. “They were greeted with a welcome dance and launching ceremony. Nico explained that the plane landed earlier than the initial schedule, which was at 6 a.m. The entire trip itself took 4.5 hours. The opening of the new route was the result of a partnership between Lion Air and PT Eco Indo, a travel company under Jetwings Group that began its first official operation in Batam in May. “Throughout the month of July, three flights or six roundtrips, are scheduled for the China-Batam route. In August, plans are in store for eight round trips,” said Nico. Apart from the city of Changsa, Lion Air has also opened direct flights to other secondary cities in China, such as Wuhan, Macao, Shenzen, Chongqing and Shanghai. Tourism Minister Arief Yahya said that China served as one of Indonesia’s most important tourism markets. The number of potential tourists from the country reaches 120 million, but currently only 1.2 million of them have traveled to Indonesia. “We are targeting to attract at least 2 million Chinese tourists to come to Indonesia,” said Arief.