The appointment of Jero Wacik as Indonesia's new Minister of Culture and Tourism to President Yudhoyono's new "United Indonesia Cabinet" has been met with some surprise among national tourism circles where little is known about the man selected to guide Indonesia's tourism fortunes.
Introducing Minister Jero Wacik
The 55 year-old Balinese was born in Singaraja on April 24, 1949, later moving to the Kintamani area of the island. A gifted student, Jero Wacik graduated with distinction as an engineering student from the prestigious Insitut Teknologi Bandung in 1974, earning a degree in economics from the Universitas Indonesia in 1983. He is the author of several books, including several text books for high school students and books on management theory.
After nearly 20 years with the heavy tractor division of United Tractors (ASTRA) he left a Directorship with that Company to start a number of tourism-related companies including PT Surya Raya Idaman and PT Griya Batu Bersinar - both companies holding diversified portfolios in hotels and tourism services.
Most recently Jero Wacik served as one of the heads of the Indonesian Democratic Party orchestrating campaign efforts for the newly elected President.
Industry Reaction to Appointment
Speaking to the Indonesian-language Bisnis Indonesia, Iqbal Allan Abdullah, the Chairman of the Indonesia Conference and Convention Association (INCCA), said many were shocked at the appointment of an individual largely unknown in local travel industry circles. "Most of my friends in the industry, who I have contacted by telephone, do not know him (the new Minister). That's no problem, what's important is his vision for the tourism sector," said Iqbal.
According to the ICCA Chairman, various tourism associations want to sit down with the newly appointed Minister and exchange ideas on a future course for Indonesian tourism.
Tourism, Still the Poor Cousin
Iqbal said he was disappointed to see that tourism is still under a non-departmental ministry of the Government headed by a State Minister. This, according to Iqbali, denies tourism its rightful place as a fully-fledged ministry and means that President Yudhoyono does not yet fully appreciate the role tourism can play in earning badly needed foreign exchange.
Although disappointed that the President has made a political appointment instead of appointing a tourism professional to the Culture and Tourism Minister's post, Iqbal remains optimistic that positive cooperation between the tourism industry and the Government can be established to help the beleaguered industry move forward.
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