An one hour inspirational and thought-provoking address by Indonesia's former Minister of Tourism and Telecommunications, Joop Ave, delivered entirely without aid of text on Wednesday, July 20, 2005, left a group of more than 200 leaders in Bali tourism awe-struck and more than a little nostalgic for the days of Ave's strong leadership as the Captain of Tourism.
Now 72 years of age and retired, Ave was invited to Bali to be the keynote speaker at a conference and workshop on repositioning Bali's tourism sponsored by the provincial government of Bali. The full-day conference at the Conrad Bali Resort & Spa was called to answer Bali Governor's call for specific input on how best to manage the island's largest industry.
Fundamental Change Ė Quo Vadis Bali?
Asking the delegates where Bali was heading, Ave reminded that following the 9-11 tragedy in New York and the Bali bombing of October 2002, the world's tourism underwent a fundamental change. In Bali, this has resulted in basic changes in the demographics of the visitors to the island, including the recent emergence of an important domestic market whose needs remain largely unaddressed by local travel practitioners.
The Age of the Lifestyle Traveler
Disdaining the cookie-cutter approach to branding service employed by many large international hotel chains, Ave encourages Bali to explore the fuller meaning of Balinese culture. Only by promoting and nurturing Bali's unique heritage, as well as appreciating the dynamic qualities of the island's culture that have made it a world-renowned holiday destination, will Bali tourism manage to maintain its leading position in a fast-changing world.
Indonesians Prefer to Take the Higher Road
Noting with sadness the recent tragic events in London, Ave recounted how Bali very successfully captured and brought to trial more than 30 people involved in the Bali bombing and, later, weathered the avalanche of criticism surrounding the Shapelle Corby trial. He applauded the fact that despite having suffered significantly as the result of unfair travel advisories, Indonesia has taken the higher road and has never considered issuing travel warnings when western powers have fallen victim to terrorist attacks.
According to Ave, recent meetings in Washington in which Australia and the U.S. both called for greater attention to be paid to Indonesia and its near neighbors were a good sign, reflecting a gradual awareness of the region's importance and potential.
Drawing on his past experience, Ave underlined his belief that a nationís airline policy must always be subservient to the national tourism goals. Insisting that he has always been a strong supporter of the national carrier Garuda Indonesia, Ave related how during his years at the helm of Indonesia's tourism he opposed those who tried to monopolize Indonesiaís air access.
In the words of the former minister, "Indonesia is too big to depend on only a single airline!"
The Management of Baliís Growth
The last part of Ave's presentation was a spirited call to action to Bali's tourism officials to rethink their approach to local politics and the management of the island's tourism product.
Citing the urgent need for a new Master Plan to guide Baliís development, he urged people to stop endlessly criticizing their current leaders but, instead, to finds ways to work together for Baliís future.
While Indonesia's new, more participatory form of government allows unheard of opportunities for people at all levels of society to participate in the decision-making process, Ave reminded his listeners that, in the end, the "Government must lead" and that successful development requires sacrifices from all parts of the community to serve the common good.
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