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Role of Foreign Airlines in Tourism's Recovery

MPI's Pontjo Sutowo Underlines Tourism Industry's Dependence on Flight Access.

(4/9/2004) Mr. Pontjo Sutowo, the Chairman of the Indonesian Tourism Think Tank (MPI) has declared that the country must seek the cooperation and support of foreign air carriers to help develop tourism.

Quoted in the Indonesian-language Bisnis Indonesia, Mr. Sutowo cited the recent introduction of AirAsia, a discount carrier operated by a Malaysian company, which is quickly expanding the number of cities it flies to in Indonesia, as an example of the need for expanded air access.

According to Mr. Sutowo, "the introduction of foreign carriers, such as AirAsia, have to be used by the national tourism industry in order that they bring additional tourists into Indonesia instead of allowing them to merely concentrate on bringing Indonesian tourists abroad." To achieve this end he recommended that hotels, travel agents, and attractions in Indonesia must construct packages in cooperation with foreign airlines to increase tourist arrival totals.

Competition with National Carriers

Mr. Sutowo acknowledged that the entry of new discount carriers will affect the fortunes of national carriers through the intense competition they bring to the marketplace. At the same time, he reminded that such competition will also act as a stimulus for Indonesian airlines to increase their corporate efficiencies and rationalize their operations.

"The increase in tourist arrivals (from foreign discount airlines) will bring a larger share of profit to other industries; such as hotels, resorts, entertainment venues, restaurants, and the handicraft sector. Because of this don't obstruct access by these new airlines with the justification of protecting domestic airlines," cautioned Mr. Sutowo.

Mr. Sutowo, who is also a major hotel owner in Indonesia, said that millions of jobs will be saved through increased tourist arrivals and help address growing unemployment problems.