Jakarta — The Ministry of Tourism is optimistic about its chances of meeting the target of 17 million foreign visits in 2018, expecting a surge in August, as Indonesia will host high-profile international events such as the 2018 Asian Games and the annual meetings of World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. According to the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) data, 6.2 million foreign visitors came to Indonesia between January and May, up 12 percent from the same period last year. “We may very well receive twice the number of international visitors in the second half. For this season, we remain optimistic about our chances to reach this year’s target of 17 foreign visitors,” the ministry’s head of investment, Henky Manurung, said in Jakarta on Wednesday (25/07). Henky said the January-May period has always been low season for tourism sector, compared with the summer and year-end holiday season. As Indonesia will be hosting Asia’s most important sporting event, many foreigners are expected to come. “It is incredibly influential with many foreign citizens, and will be this year’s biggest event,” Henky. The ministry is working together with agencies in the industry, both domestic and international, to design tour packages related to the Games. The Asian Games will increase the state’s foreign exchange through tourism. If 170,000 enter Indonesia spending $1,200 each, we would be getting roughly $230 million,” Tourism Minister Arief Yahya said. The World Bank and IMF annual meeting in Bali on October, is going to be attended by thousands of people representing foreign delegations. Several domestic airlines have opened new routes to cater foreign visitors. Citilink, the budget airline subsidiary of national flag carrier Garuda Indonesia, for example, will be operating direct flights between Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and Banyuwangi International Airport in East Java. Lion Air will fly from Sam Ratulangi International Airport in Manado, North Sulawesi to Tianjin Binhai International Airport in China’s Dongli. Sriwijaya Air also reopened China-Manado route. “We hope that opening this route will increase the number of international visits to North Sulawesi,” said Sam Ratulangi Airport general manager Minggus ET Gandeguai.