"In 2019, the tourism sector is predicted to become the largest foreign exchange earner in this country," the minister said in his opening remarks in the Nomoni Island, Palu Charm Festival, here, Saturday.
One of the factors that would help boost the tourism contribution to the nation is the fact that prices of natural resources such as oil, gas, coal, and oilpalm have dropped, he said.
Tourism has employed the largest number of manpower, he added.
The country`s main foreign exchange contributors are trade, investment and tourism.
He hoped that Central Sulawesi and its capital, Palu, could develop its tourism industry which automatically it would also boost local trade and investment.
"I hope Palu to become a main tourist destination in Indonesia," he remarked.
If one million foreign tourists visited Palu, the city would earn some US$1.2 billion, or around Rp15 trillion be circulated in the public.
The number of foreign tourist arrivals in Central Sulawesi is now less than 100 thousand, and it is expected to increase to at least 100 thousand so the city would earn some US$1 million or Rp1.3 trillion.
In the opening of the festival, the minister signed an inscription that reads "Nomoni Island, We show to the world, We show to Indonesia, that Palu deserves to be called the Pearl of the Equator," in English.
Central Sulawesi Governor Longki Djanggola signed a similar inscription in Indonesian language, and Palu Mayor Hidayat signed the one written in a local language, Kaili.
The festival aimed at promoting Palu`s tourism objects, is being held in Palu, from September 24 to 26.