As reported by Ibu Tuti Sunario, publisher of the authoritative Indonesia Digest:
Presidential Instruction to Support Growth of Tourism and Culture
Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono attempted to jumpstart the recovery and turn-around of the Indonesian tourism sector with the issuance of Presidential Instruction no. 16 of 2005 on Policies related to Development of Culture and Tourism.
The Instruction, signed on December 29, 2005, called on Cabinet Ministers, Government Institutions, the Police, Governors, District Heads and Mayors to first, improve quality of public services to domestic and international tourists; secondly, accelerate the growth of culture and tourism with the aim to improve social welfare, create jobs, fight poverty and distribute development more equitably; thirdly proactively protect, develop and positively use natural and cultural resources in developing culture and tourism, and fourthly: use the theme "Indonesia Ultimate in Diversity" in all overseas promotions, and "Know your country, Love your country, let us explore Indonesia” in all domestic promotions."
The Instruction then continues to give specific instructions to 21 Ministers, two Heads of National Institutions, the Chief of Police and all Governors, District Heads and Mayors related to each in their purview of authority. A number of these are, among others to the:
• Coordinating Minister for Politics, Law and Security to coordinate efforts in analyzing and determining social-cultural conditions in tourist areas to become more conducive for international visitors, in order that more nationalities may be issued Visas on Arrival.
• Minister for Home Affairs to review local bylaws that hamper the growth of culture and tourism; urge local governments to develop tourism development programs, and protect and maintain historical and archaeological sites.
• Minister of Finance to review regulations on import duties on such items for development of the culture and tourism industry; to provide facilities for the import of goods for development of marine tourism and green tourism, including the development of small islands along Indonesia's borders, for tourism purposes. The Minister to review outbound tax (fiskal) to passengers or groups planning to promote tourism overseas; study possibilities to provide tax refund in efforts to promote shopping tourism to Indonesia; and provide facilities to accelerate import and export of materials for conferences, incentive groups, and exhibitions (MICE).
• Minister for Law and Human Rights to study possibilities to increase the number of nationalities to be extended Visa on Arrival, and study to extend their length of stay and increase entry points for visitors.
• Foreign Minister to support promotion of the theme : Indonesia Ultimate in Diversity, and support the establishment of Indonesian cultural centers overseas.
• Minister for Public Works to support development of national access roads to tourism destinations; and determine potential tourism resorts.
• Minister for Transportation to (a) urge national airlines to offer flights to and from Indonesian tourist destinations; simplify permits for cruise ships; (c) increase bilateral cooperation with tourist generating countries; increase quality and capacity of airports.
• Minister for State Enterprises to urge Financial Institutions and Government Banks to develop special investment loans to support the growth of the cultural and tourism industry.
• The National Police to improve services to ensure the safety and security of tourists; enforce the law including those affecting foreign visitors, in particular regulations related to narcotics; and protect tourist areas from terrorist threats.
• Governors, District Heads and Majorsto compile a Tourism Development Master Plan; simplify and facilitate permits for culture and tourism development and simplify location permits for the shooting of films; furthermore, organize events staging local traditions, arts and culture.
• The Minister for Culture and Tourism to (a) provide complete information related to culture and tourism; (b) increase cooperation with Regions as well as improve international cooperation in efforts to support tourism promotion; (c) push development of priority destinations; and increase public awareness to protect and maintain cultural heritage sites and tourist attractions.
Can Indonesian Tourism Become More Competitive?
Oddly missing in this whole array of public authorities to whom instructions are issued, are instructions addressed to the Coordinating Minister for Public Welfare, under whose coordination is the Minister for Culture and Tourism, to coordinate culture and tourism development efforts. The question then remains, who or which authority is tasked to coordinate the implementation of actions. Will this be the President himself?
Also missing are instructions to the Coordinating Minister for the Economy, to ensure that tourism development and national as well as regional policies are made in the framework of national and regional policies for economic growth, in order to make Indonesia a more competitive destination in the region and globally. This now missing, how can Indonesia hope to compete in this competitive age of globalization?
An obvious linkage of policies and actions that involve or mention the business sector and industry is also sorely missing, especially one which can provide incentives for business growth and the empowerment of the tourism industry.
Similarly, instructions to the Minister for Culture and Tourism are felt to need expansion to include a more active national leadership by the Department in order to improve Indonesia’s competitiveness vis-à-vis our neighbors in the region as well as globally. The Department should also provide a clear road map for regions, the business world and all stakeholders to follow, in order to concertedly develop the varied destinations of Indonesia.
In short, to this writer, a rather disappointing Presidential Instruction. However, officials promise that the Instruction will be followed up by more specific workable instructions.
Asked for his comments on the above Presidential Instruction, former Tourism and Telecommunication Minister, Joop Ave, said that although not yet ideal, the Presidential Instruction holds promises and has positively responded to some 50% of requests from the industry.
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