Fewer visitors to Indonesia
Tourist arrivals to Indonesia during the first 11 months of last year were down 8.79 percent compared with the same period in 2004, government officials said yesterday. During those 11 months 3.76 million foreign tourists visited Indonesia, compared with 4.12 million the same period in 2004, said Choiril Maksum, head of the National Statistics Agency (BPS). Indonesia will miss its tourist arrivals target of 6 million this year, largely because of the second suicide bombings on the resort island of Bali on Oct. 1, which left at least 23 people dead, other officials said. In the wake of the blasts, several Western embassies in Jakarta, including the Australian, British, Canadian and US missions, issued travel warnings concerning Indonesia.
Wal-Mart sales at low end
Wal-Mart Stores Inc, which made a big push this holiday season to woo customers with aggressive discounts and marketing, estimated that sales for last month will meet only the low end of its forecast. The world's largest retailer said on Saturday that sales at stores open for at least a year, known as same-store sales, are expected to be up 2.2 percent last month. The forecast was for a 2 percent to 4 percent gain. Same-store sales are considered the best indicator of a retailers' health. The company said that general merchandise sales outpaced demand for food. Wal-Mart, which stumbled during the holiday 2004 shopping season, came out with a holiday campaign two weeks earlier than last year.
■ Auto industry
S Korean firms do well
South Korean auto manufacturers enjoyed brisk sales last year thanks to strong demand at home and abroad, data showed yesterday. Hyundai Motor, the country's largest automaker, said it sold 2.53 million vehicles last year, up 11 percent from a year earlier. Sister firm Kia Motors said its total sales increased 13.9 percent year-on-year to 1.27 million. GM Daewoo Auto and Technology, the third-largest automaker in South Korea, said its sales gained 28.6 percent year-on-year to number 1.15 million units last year. Its sales first topped the 1 million unit mark after General Motors took over Daewoo Motor to launch the merged firm in 2002. Ssangyong Motor, South Korea's fourth-largest carmaker purchased last year by China's Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp (上海汽車工業), said its sales for last year totaled 141,306 units, up 4.2 percent from a year earlier.
China sets up Web blacklist
China's prosecutors have set up an online blacklist of people convicted of bribing officials, in the country's latest attempt to fight rampant corruption, state media said yesterday. The list includes individuals and organizations convicted of bribery or bribery-related crimes since 1997 in the sectors of construction, finance, education, health and government procurement, the Beijing News said. The paper quoted China's top prosecution office, the Supreme People's Procuratorate, as saying the public can search for information on the list but only after applying in writing to the prosecutors' offices. Officials in China are notorious for using their time in their posts to rake in as much money as possible, as they earn low salaries.