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Made Suryawan on the Visa Campaign

Exclusive Interview from with the Spokesperson of the Alliance of Tourism Stakeholders.

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On July 25, 2003, hundreds of tourism workers, academicians and government tourism workers marched on Bali's Consultative Assembly (DPRD) to demand the revocation of Presidential Decree No. 18 that will remove the visa-free-on-arrival facility for many of the citizens of the 48 countries that currently get a 60 day stay permit upon landing in Bali. Except for some of Indonesia's ASEAN neighbors and the citizens of a select few other nations, visitors will pay US$ 35 for a 30 day non-extendable visa at the airport of arrival. This is expected to take effect sometime in September or October of this year. recently caught up with the very busy Mr. Made Suryawan for an interview. "Surya" is the Chairman of Parasparos - an organization of tourism industry executives working to improve the life of Balinese local communities, the spokesperson for the Alliance of Tourism Stakeholders (ASPB), and General Manager of the Santika Beach Hotel

QUESTION: You recently led a demonstration organized under the Alliance of Tourism Stakeholders (ASPB) to protest plans to change the current visa policy and replace it with a fee of US$ 35 to be paid by visitors who now enjoy a visa-free status. In your opinion, how successful was your protest?

MADE SURYAWAN: At this stage the action is a success as it managed to unify all stakeholders which rarely happens – all the Diparda (Editor: provincial tourism officials), kabupaten (Editor: heads of regional governments), the province's Tourism Industry associations, Bali Tourism Board, people from the University of Udayana, NGOs and other community representatives – all calling on the legislators and governor to support an "all out" effort (against the visa rule change). However, I don't think this demo was sufficient to voice our concerns to the decision makers in Jakarta. We need to further voice our refusal with the coordination of the 9 Kadiparda (Editor: Chief of Tourism Offices) from 9 Provinces who agreed during a meeting in Bali to a common declaration representing Java island, Lampung, NTB and Bali.

We are also preparing a delegation from Bali and maybe from other provinces to meet Mega and the DPR pusat (Editor: Central People's Consultative Assembly).

QUESTION: What is the ASPB? Is this a new tourism organization among the many already existing stakeholder organizations operating in Bali tourism?

MADE SURYAWAN: ASPB at the moment is only for this action. For me, ASPB is the "real" BTB (Editor: Bali Tourism Board). Currently BTB is only the (tourism) industry.

QUESTION: Looking at the response to the Bali bombing and SARS panic as reference points, there seems to be a definite lack of leadership and direction, both on a national and local level in Indonesian tourism. Is this perception correct and, if so, what can be done to remedy the situation?

MADE SURYAWAN: Yes....that perception is widely perceived by the people. The answer surely is - "if possible" - to change the leaders for more effective ones. With that undestanding, since it is a fact the it is bestto "empower" the leaders with our support, cooperation, and unity of private sectors, as we have done the DPRD (editor: Regional People's Consultative Assembly). I believe many of (potential leaders) are around but since the story of the "movie" is not that yet, then it is impossible to have a good leader at the moment. So the best for all of us (now) must cooperate and point (to) the best and most effective leader among them. But it seems it will work better now as several meetings indicating a better cooperation (have occurred), let us wait several weeks more. Better late than never. Life is a process of never ending education.

QUESTION: Local political leaders have promised an "all out" effort to support the ASPB's call to revoke the planned changes in the visa policy, now said to be implemented in September/October of this year. As we understand it, ASPB has even called on local officials to refuse to implement the fee as a final resistance to the policy. What's your honest appraisal of the chances of getting the Government to back-down on the new visa policy?

MADE SURYAWAN: I think it is difficult as everybodies' mind in Bali and Indonesia is not here/developing their country, but too much focused on pilkada and pemilu. (Editor: local and national elections) Sad...but...there is a word of act which should be fact.

QUESTION: What's the next step in the struggle in the movement to revoke the visa policy?

MADE SURYAWAN: As said before, a delegation is being prepared. But I don't want to be too pushy this time, as last time I was a bit pushy to make this action happen.

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