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Starwood Boss Calls for More Promotion

Oliver Bonke Says the Problem is Not Insufficient Security But Insufficient Promotion.

(3/8/2004) In an interview carried in the March 1, 2004 edition of the Jakarta Post, the Vice-President for Sales and Marketing for Starwood Hotels in the Asia-Pacific region, Mr. Oliver Bonke, shares his views on Indonesia's prospects for tourism in the medium to long term.

Brooke said that Starwood, which operates 10 properties in Indonesia and employees over 3,500 people, experienced an average occupancy of 52% in 2003, a figure they expect to increase to an average 65 to 70 percent in the current year.

Suggesting that the traveling public are beginning to shake off the initial panic of each new crisis, he said that the elections being held in Indonesia will not necessarily have a negative impact on travel patterns, especially with the recent emergence of a large domestic travel sector.

A Lack of Promotion

In his interview, Bonke said he thought "Indonesia could do a better job in promoting to the world what a great destination it is." Commenting on Bali, he said, "when you look at a site like Bali, it lacks nothing in terms of infrastructure and the desire for people to go there, but it may lose its competitive edge in terms of promotion as a tourism destination from a country standpoint."

While avoiding any direct criticism of current promotional efforts, the Starwood executive suggested there may be room for improvement in developing a national tourism promotion campaign that is "well-funded, well-organized and well-promoted."

Security Not the Issue

Bonke pointed out that the world had undergone a fundamental change in recent years, but said his personal experience was that security measures in place at the hotels he has visited in Indonesia exceeds those in place at other hotels around the globe.

Visa-On-Arrival

Bonke did not necessarily see the new visa on arrival policy as a problem for national tourism. He hoped, however, that some of the revenues generated by the new policy could be channeled to much needed tourism promotion.