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Tourism and Culture Ministry to Be Abolished?

Draft Law Would Remove Tourism From Next Presidential Cabinet Structure.

(3/15/2004) A set of draft laws now before the People's Consultative Assembly (DPR-RI) would effectively abolish tourism as a Ministerial portfolio, doing away with the current Culture and Tourism Ministry.

The new law, drafted by the State Minister for Administrative Reform and coordinated by the Minister of Justice and Human Rights, would downgrade culture and tourism from a cabinet-level post to become a government department charged only with implementing policies made on a Ministerial level.

The bill still subject to a lengthy legislative debate and review process has been greeted with shock by many tourism leaders in Indonesia. Ms. Yanti Sukamdani, the Chairperson of the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI) has labeled the potential removal of tourism from the next Presidential Cabinet as a "big mistake." She complained that such a move by the government completely ignores the fact that international tourism generates US$ 5 billion in foreign exchange for Indonesia while domestic tourists now total 133 million travelers generating Rp. 87 trillion in revenues (approximately US$ 10.2 billion). Tourism, she added, is also seen as the direct and indirect source of over 37 million jobs across the nation.

Indonesia's reigning Minister of Culture and Tourism, Mr. I Gede Ardika, while insisting he is not seeking to preserve his position in the government, has urged members of the tourism industry to lobby the various political parties seeking votes nationwide to retain a government ministry charged with overseeing tourism matters.

Responding to the Minister's call, Ms. Sukamdani has promised that PHRI will soon start lobbying the various political parties in the country underlining the national vision and mission of tourism by providing data on the sector's massive contributions to the economy.