The Indonesian-language website bisnis.com's February 8, 2005 edition provided coverage of recent hearings by Commission X of the National Parliament (DPR), the Commission charged with tourism affairs, where a number current criticisms being leveled against national tourism affairs were aired.
A Lack of Political Will
M. Joko Santoso, a member of Commission X from the Partai Amanat Nasional, said, "the problems of tourism are never ending because of the lack of strong political will from the government on tourism issues and a lack of desire to build (tourism) together." Speaking at the hearing, Joko said it is the responsibility of the government to now resolve the many problems facing the tourism sector beginning from promotional budgets, to Visas on Arrival, fiscal taxes, travel warning and the image of the Country in the post-tsunami era.
"We have targeted 6 million foreign tourists for 2005, thus all of the relevant agencies must now work together in a coordinated way because it has been proven that tourism can become the backbone of the economy, as it is in countries like Malaysia, providing it is properly managed and there exists a political will from the government," he added.
As a result, Joko has recommended that Commission X undertake a coordinating meeting with other Parliamentary Commissions concerned with tourism issues as, according to the legislator, the solution to tourisms many problems does not rest solely with the Minister of Culture and Tourism, the tourism industry and Commission X.
Problems with Branding
In his comments at the hearing reported by bisnis.com, Joko alluded to what he felt was a mistake in the current management of Indonesia's re-branding under the slogan "Indonesia Ultimate in Diversity." The legislator claims that the same company handling Indonesia's rebranding was also the same company engaged in branding Malaysia's Truly Asia campaign – a keen tourism competitor of Indonesia.
Where There's a Will, There's Usually Someone in the Way
Joko went on to say that the management of Indonesian tourism is currently thwarted by too much bureaucracy resulting in a lack of competitiveness for the Country's tourism products. "It's time for the management of tourism to be oriented towards the market so that promotions undertaken match up with the target markets and with the tourism players are given a larger role to play," said Joko.
A Lack of Support to the Private Sector
Joko regretted the lack of support from the Government to the Nation's tourism players in their efforts to promote Indonesian tourism internationally. In the hearings the Secretary General of the Association of Indonesian Tour and Travel Agents (ASITA), Yekti Prihatiningsih Suradji, complained of the high cost of participating in tourism promotional events abroad, including the cost of booth rental and participating in press events.
The ASITA official pointed out that, in contrast to their Indonesian counterparts, members of the Malaysian tourism industry consistently receive substantial financial support from their governments to participate in such events along with a host of other facilitations.
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