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Call for Stimulus Package for Ailing Tourism

Government Intervention Needed to Prevent Tourism Business Collapse.

(5/29/2003) Bali tourism operators are becoming increasingly vocal and united in their calls for the Government to take definitive steps in terms of providing concrete assistance to avoid widespread business failures in the tourism sector.

Speaking with the Antara News Agency, Feisol Hashim, a local hotel and tour operator and member of the Indonesian Tourism Think Tank (Masyrakyat Pariwisata Indonesia), called on the Government to quickly introduce a stimulus package. According to Hashim, "The stimulus can be in a temporary reduction or elimination of taxes, long term loans or other incentives." At the same time Hashim cautioned that Government policies for tourism must be consistent and not subject to change with every change of government or reshuffle of the cabinet.

According to Antara, Hashim called on the government and the tourism industry to sit down together and prepare a "blue book" on tourism promotion in order to improve coordination and avoid the play of egos and "dualism" currently evident between the Cultural and Tourism Board and the State Ministry.

Meanwhile, the Chairman of Bali's branch of the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association, I Gede Wiratha, said that the Nation's restaurants and travel agents are in a "critical condition," not unlike a patient in an Intensive Care Unit. Adding, "if there is not new stimulus from the Government, we will only survive until October or, at the most, the end of the year."

Another prominent Bali tourism figure, Jero Gede Karang T. Suarshana, a local hotel and tour operator, accused the government of "washing their hands" whenever confronted with an obstacle or problem confronting the Nation's tourism sector. To emphasize his point he alluded to the financial failure of many overseas tour operators who are defaulting on their debts to Indonesian tour operators. Local Indonesian tour operators are often ill-equipped or unable to seek payment through a complicated foreign bankruptcy process, with Suarshana suggesting these problems could be dealt with on a government-to-government basis.