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(3/27/2006) In Bali on Monday, March 20, 2006, to attend an top-level investment conference being held on the Island, Indonesia's Vice President Jusuf Kalla; the Coordinating Minister for the Economy Boediono; the Minister for Culture and Tourism Jero Wacik; Bali's Governor Dewa Bertha; and the Head of the National Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) Muhammad Lutfi held a rapidly-convened "town meeting" with 120 leading business players drawn from Bali's tourism industry at The Westin Resort, Nusa Dua, Bali.
The Vice President Speaks
In addressing Bali's tourism industry, Vice President Jusuf Kalla assured the people of Bali that their interests were never far from the heart of the nation's leaders.
Among the points made by Indonesia's VP to his audience included :
• The freedom enjoyed by the Press should not be used to damage Indonesia's image abroad or the attractiveness of Bali as a world tourism destination. News of unrest, violence and demonstrations should be presented in a proportional way that will encourage a more conducive atmosphere for business and tourism.
• The Central Government and the provinces must cooperate with the media in overseas promotional efforts.
• Media communication plans must be developed that are designed to fit current market mixes.
• The Middle East has strong potential as an inbound market for Indonesia and, in light of that fact, flight capacity from the market needs to be increased.
• Bali needs to unify its promotional efforts, presenting a single voice for the entire island in seeking tourism visitors.
• The Minister of Culture and Tourism must be tireless in promoting Bali because of the Island's acknowledged position as a national tourism icon.
• Indonesia must emulate Singapore Airlines' role as a leading player in national tourism promotion, giving Garuda a lead role in selling Indonesia to the world.
Bali Tourism Board
During a question and answer session, Bagus Sudibya, Chairman of the Bali Tourism Board (BTB), called on the Central Government to make a rapid disbursement of the Rp. 67 billion (approximately US$7.3 million) already allocated for the recovery of Bali's tourism industry. In the future, according to Sudibya, Bali needs an annual minimum of Rp. 150 billion (approximately US$16.3 million) for tourism promotion activities suggesting one-third should be funded from the State Budget, one-third from the Provincial budget via Hotel and Restaurant taxes; and one-third from private sector initiatives in Bali. Sudibya also called for all tourism promotional activities to be coordinated between the Department of Tourism and the private-sector Bali Tourism Board.
Representing the 9 stake holding organization of the BTB, Sudibya called for the revision of the current one-month validity for the visa-on-arrival to be extended to 3 months. He also called on the Government to recommence European flight service by Garuda Indonesia, completely suspended over the past few years; for the government to review the 1983 tourism law now seen as out of step with the needs of the Industry; for steps to be taken to stamp out the destructive practice of "auctioning tourists" practiced in the inbound Chinese market to Bali; and for the nation's leaders to urgently review the controversial anti-pornography bill now being considered in Jakarta.
The leader of the BTB also underlined to the top-ranking visitors from Jakarta the need for more professional management of tourist attractions, with more involvement by tourism stakeholders in the management of such objects, and firm sanctions to be imposed whenever a tourism object's management was found to be performing poorly.
Complaining that Bali's airport continues to fall below International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards, Sudibya called for an urgent repair and upgrade of Bali's air gateway in order to anticipate the demands of the new Airbus 380 aircraft.
Sudibya also used the forum to repeat his call for a crackdown on Bali's villa sector. Complaining that there are an estimated 4,000 unregistered villas operating in Bali, with the BTB Chairman saying this results in a loss of 10% in hotel occupancy and a corresponding amount in tax revenues. He called for a tighter control on permits, operation and the taxation of villa operations in Bali with an eye to their eventual integration into the Island's hotel system.
Jusuf Kalla Responds
After a lively exchange of comments with the BTB Chairman and other key tourism leaders attending the meeting, the Vice President responded:
• The Vice President instructed the Minister of Culture and Tourism to accelerate the disbursement of the Rp. 67 billion allocated for Bali tourism recovery in order that hasten the Island's comeback.
• Indonesia's VP also told the Coordinating Minister for the Economy to reserve an annual US$5 million for Bali tourism promotion commencing with the 2007 budget. As a follow up, Kalla asked that the BTB formally send a letter to the Coordinating Minister of the Economy on this point.
• VP Kalla instructed Bali's Governor to coordinate more closely with municipal and regency governments in Bali to find the best solution for the care and upkeep of tourist attractions, including the repair of roads and streets leading to these objects.
• The VP promised that he would coordinate with the Minister of Communications on how best to increase the capacity and facilities of the Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali. He also reminded the head of immigration at Bali's Airport to provide polite and friendly service to visitors without jeopardizing the need to maintain security.
• Kalla called for greater attention to be paid to public order, particularly as it affects tourists, and urged the mass media to present the best image of the Country abroad.
• The VP stated his support for moves to improve the training and quality of Indonesia's professional guides.
• The VP voiced his support for calls for financial subsidies in support of overseas promotional efforts on behalf of tourism. He recommended that the Coordinating Minister of the Economy reduce the burden of the fiscal tax for tourism workers traveling on promotional trips.
• The VP assured his Balinese audience that the rights and interests of the Balinese people would not be ignored in the current efforts to pass an anti-pornography law in Jakarta.