Indonesia is ranked the world's third cheapest tourism in terms of hotels, plane tickets and fuel cost after Egypt and Brunei. But, when using other indexes, Indonesia competitiveness suffers resulting in an overall competitiveness ranking of 81 out of 133 countries surveyed by the World Economic Forum (WEF), according to Firmansyah Rahim, the Director General of Destination Development at the Department of Culture and Tourism.
In reviewing the survey results with the press, Firmansyah explained: "From the standpoint of price we are ranked 3rd best, but when seen in its entirety we (Indonesia) ranks at position 81. Meanwhile, the ranking for the ten most competitive tourism destinations are Switzerland, Austria, Germany, France, Canada, Spain, Sweden and the United States, Australia and our neighbor of Singapore."
In 2007 Indonesia ranked 60 among 124 countries and in 2008 Indonesia moved to 80 among 130 countries. "Indeed, the trend this year has been downward and our minimum target is to get back to the last year's ranking," said Firmansyah.
He went on to explain that the WEF rank national tourism competitiveness based on various factors, including regulations, business environment, infrastructure, manpower and natural resources among 73 separate variables of which only 12 variables are directly linked to tourism.
"In order to understand why Indonesian has declined in the competitiveness rankings we need to look at the variables used to compile the survey. In order to improve we need to examine what is being evaluated by the WEF," Firmansyah continued.
The 73 variables used in the survey by WEF are wide-ranging. Within the category of regulations the WEF considers the legality of foreign ownership of businesses by foreigners, intellectual property rights, foreign investment rules, visa regulations and the issues related to open-air access.
In the area of business environment and infrastructure the survey looks at regulations governing the natural environment, CO2 emissions, concentrations of dangerous particulates in the ecosystem, protection of endangered species, safety from terrorist threats and the dependability of police services.
From among the 73 areas included in the survey only 12 fall under the direct control of the Department of Culture and Tourism with 28 more representing shared areas of responsibility with other Departments. The remaining 34 variable are a shared responsibility with people of Indonesia such as public security, friendliness and cleanliness.
At the same forum, a public relations expert, Aselina Endang Trihastuti, underlined the weakness of coordination among the various leaders working within Indonesia's tourism industry. "This weakness also influences the weakness of Indonesian competitiveness with everyone doing their own thing based on their own sectorial egos. If the WEF ranks Indonesia as the third cheapest tourism destination why can't we work for a higher overall ranking?," asked Aselina.
The PR practitioner and academician also bemoaned the lack of coordination and teamwork in Indonesian tourism, made evident in the lack of a working Indonesian Tourism Promotion Board.
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