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Minister Wacik Responds

An Interview from the Bali Post Allows Indonesia's Minister of Culture and Tourism to Respond to a Growing Torrent of Criticism.

(10/16/2006) As reported on balidiscovery.com [ Tourism Minister to Be Ousted in Cabinet Reshuffle? ] and [ A Minister at Loggerheads with His Industry ], Indonesia's Minister of Tourism and Culture, Jero Wacik continues to face a torrent of criticism from leading figures within the Indonesian tourism industry with some of the more vocal critics even calling for his replacement in a promised reshuffle of the Presidential Cabinet.

In an interview carried in the Indonesian language Bali Post on Thursday, October 12, 2006, Minister Jero Wacik addressed the controversy regarding his management of the tourism sector and mounting criticism from the Indonesian Tourism Thing Tank (MPI).

The Interview

Bali Post: The Chairman of the Tourism Think Tank (MPI) Pontjo Sutowo appraises the Minister of Culture and Tourism work to date as lacking strategy?

Jero Wacik: That is not correct. I have spoken extensively with associations and the tourism industry on how to advance Indonesian tourism and I have worked to a maximum. If the figures are such (editor: the continuing decline in tourism arrivals), there's not much we can say. What's clear is that for the past two years since becoming Minister I have worked strategically and to a maximum.

Bali Post: What do you mean?

Jero Wacik: It's like this. I was appointed Minister of Culture and Tourism on October 21, 2004. The following day I met with tourism associations the PHRI (Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association), ASITA (the Association of Indonesian Tour Agencies), and INNCA (Indonesian Association of Congress and Conference Organizers) except for Pak Pontjo of the MPI, a much smaller organization. I sought input on what the industry needs. It developed that they complained that Chinese citizens who wanted to visit Indonesia had to travel 4 hours to Ghuang Zhoa to obtain a visa and that an Indonesian representative office needed to be opened in Ghuang Zhoa. They also ask that seat capacity on foreign flights be increased. Other issues included the need to create new markets outside the traditional markets of Australia, ASEAN and a handful of European nations. We agreed that these new markets would be China, India and the Middle East because these three countries were 'closed' by us.

Bali Post: The results?

Jero Wacik: I immediately spoke with the Foreign Minister and the Minister of Justice and Human Rights regarding opening a diplomatic office in Ghuang Zhoa to which they agreed. We also established a strategic plan for market development by undertaking promotion to three new markets that to date we had never done.

Bali Post: So, this includes strategic works?

Jero Wacik: To this needs to be added the meeting with 17 ministers with connections to tourism in Tampaksiring, Bali led by President Yudhoyono. Moreover, Pak Pontjo (MPI) personally came and witnessed this meeting. It should be noted that this is the first time the President has convened a working meeting on tourism issues. So, there was added value for our tourism industry. Is this considered non-strategic?

Bali Post: Sir, are you unhappy with these accusations?

Jero Wacik: Yes, that's right. Because I have worked for the people and I will report every year to the President. I am sure that my report and the synergy of my work over the past two years will not be coded 'red' because I have done much.

Bali Post: You been appraised as being non-strategic and for failing to make a scale of policy priorities for restoring a devastated tourism sector. How do you respond?

Jero Wacik: What scale of priorities? When an hotelier asks for reduced taxes, is that a priority? Sorry, I have not done that. I work in the interest of the people and not for the interest of businessmen.

Bali Post: If the accusations are not correct, do you have a plan to summon or reprimand those leveling these charges?

Jero Wacik: Why would I do that? Remember, the very existence of the MPI is based on a decision of the Minister of Culture and Tourism that has run for 6 years when, in fact, the term of office was only 5 years. I am able to revoke and dissolve (the MPI) on that basis. Nonetheless, I have not done this. The role of the MPI is to provide input for the Minister, although it is not clear who exactly sits on that body.