Various national media report that Bali's governor, I Made Mangku Pastika, admires and in some ways covets the manner in which Malaysia promotes its tourism industry.
And well he might, while Bali, despite her many charms, attracts only around 2 million foreign tourists each year, while Malaysia managed to welcome 22 million foreign tourists in 2008.
Pastika gave voice to his "jealousy" of Malaysia's burgeoning tourism industry in comments made at a Bali conference on "Terrorism Prevention in Bali's Tourism Environment" held on October 31, 2009.
Quoted by Kompas.com, governor Pastika blamed Bali's relative shortfall in tourism numbers on a "wrong concept" and a lack of organized promotion. The governor complained: "To date all that's been done is going back and forth on overseas trip armed with an unorganized concept. Everything needs to be reorganized."
Refusing to specify what concept could best guide Bali tourism, Pastika said, "basically we will redesign tourism promotion, whether we will emulate Malaysia or not, let's wait and see."
Bali Hotelier Beg to Differ
Commenting separately, the Chairman of the Bali Hotel Association (BHA), Djinaldi Gozan, expressed disagreement with the governor's statement. He felt that Bali's tourism professional were pursuing the best course of action. "Promotion through the door-to-door distribution of pamphlets can only be done when large sums of money are available for promotion; a situation not enjoyed by Bali at this time," explained Djinadli. The BHA official also attributed much of Malaysia's tourism's success to the large amount of money lavished on tourism promotion. "The funds they (Malaysia) have for promotion is ten times the amount spent by Indonesia," he said.
Djinaldi underlined, however, that the main obstacle Indonesia faces in bringing more tourist visitors is an inadequate infrastructure. Adding, "we can bring 5 or 7 million people, but on the other hand, we're not ready (to receive them) like Malaysia and Singapore."
Djinaldi also pointed to poor immigration service at the airport and the frequent change of officials in charge as another stumbling block. "If there a program like 'Visit Indonesia' – it is automatic that our airlines, infrastructure and their equipment must be complete and ready. And, while we can't say (the current situation) is horrible, but, rather, is in process to becoming better."
To demonstrate his point, Djinaldi cited the high occupancy enjoyed by many hotels in Bali is dominated by areas such as Nusa Dua, Kuta, Sanur and Ubud. "It's not so much that the other areas are disliked, it's just that the facilities they offer are not as complete as these favorite destinations, he explained.
Governor Pastika was not in total disagreement with the BHA official, crediting Malaysia's human resources, guaranteed security and good infrastructure as the mainstays of its successful tourism industry. In order to earn Bali a larger market share, Pastika said he would prioritize three areas: human resource, education and the people's health. He assured that in this way and by improving its infrastructure Bali would be on an accelerated path to 10 million tourist visitors coming to the island each year.
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