Thursday, January 3, 2008

Indonesia welcomes Germans first in 2008

German couple Michel and Jennifer Franchon Bernard did not expect they would be greeted by a crew of friendly airport staff members and a Sundanese jaipongan dance troupe upon arriving at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport on New Year's Day.

"What a surprise. We are very happy. We never dreamed of this happening. I couldn't even sleep because of the holiday," Michel said.

Michel and his wife are visiting Indonesia for a two-week vacation. They said they would spend their first week in Jakarta and another week in Bali and Lombok.

Airport operator PT Angkasa Pura II picked the couple as the first air passengers to land at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport for the new year.

The couple, along with 256 others, arrived in Jakarta on a Singapore Airlines flight from Singapore, which landed at 10:30 a.m.

"The couple received the Indonesian government's acknowledgment as the first tourists to visit the country this year," said airport executive general manager Heriyanto.

The airport operator presented the couple with flower wreaths, PT Angkasa Pura paraphernalia, batik clothing and priority in visa-on-arrival arrangements as the first tourists for 2008.

PT Angkasa Pura president director Edi Haryoto said the special greeting was arranged in a bid to support the government's "Visit Indonesian Year 2008" program.

The government has targeted 7 million foreign visitors during "Visit Indonesia Year 2008". According to government data, 5.5 million foreigners visited Indonesia in 2006.

"Through this program, we are sure Indonesia will secure a good image in the eyes of other countries and attract more tourists to visit," Edi said.

He added the international airport received 31 million passengers in 2007, which hit the target mark.

"By reaching our target of 31 million passengers this year, we have proven we have strengthened our market position and that flying has become one of the most important modes of transportation here," Haryoto said. He said the number of passengers passing through the airport's terminals had increased from 30 million in 2006 to 31 million in 2007.

"With the support of the reconstruction of terminal III, we have targeted to reach 34 million passengers in 2008," Edi said.


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