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We Think We Can, We Think We Can

Vice-President's Call for Ambitious Foreign Tourist Targets in 2007 Prompts Statements of Conditional Support from National Tourism Leaders.

(2/3/2007) As reported on balidiscovery.com [Bali and Indonesia Targets Growth in 2007 Arrivals] Indonesia has set a bold target of 7 million foreign visitors in 2007, something on the order of 45% growth from totals achieved in 2006.

Despite the ambitious target, many of Indonesia's tourism leaders polled by the Indonesian language Bisnis Indonesia remain bullish that the 7 million target can be realized, providing the Government stays strongly committed to working closely with the private sector.

Yanti Sukamdani - Indonesian Hotel & Restaurant Association

The Chairwoman of the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI), Yanti Sukamdani, was particularly confident, saying the current target can be easily achieved if the government focuses its energies on developing tourism. Sukamdani added: "The tourism industry has long been ready; moreover within the Association (PHRI) we have targeted 6 million visitors. The problem is that last year we only welcomed 4.8 million foreign tourists because the Government still believes that tourism is solely a matter for the Department of Culture and Tourism."

In late January, Indonesia's Vice President publicly urged Indonesian Minister of Culture and Tourism to substantially revise upward his current target of 5.5 million visitors to the 7 million figure.

Sukamdani called on all elements of the Government to cooperate with tourism associations in the packaging, promotion and development of national tourism. "We don't have a tourism promotion board like our neighboring countries, but if the Government prepares programs and cooperative efforts usually undertaken by a tourism board, Indonesia won't be left behind," she reminded.

The PHRI Chief pointed to recent developments in the transportation sector as proof of what can be done if all parties pull together. In 2006, the number of domestic passengers increased 17.24%, reaching 34 million. During the same year, international passengers increased 10.76% ending 2006 at 14.4 million.

Perhaps suggesting that the Government should liberalize air access on international sectors to the same extent as they have done domestically, Sukamdani reminded that the development of national tourism should notbe the sole responsibility oof Garuda Indonesia.

Ben Sukma - Indonesian Association of Tour & Travel Agents

Similarly, the Chairman of the Indonesian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (ASITA), Ben Sukma, said he shared Sukamdani's optimism on realizing the 7 million target, providing that promotion funds are put in place and the Government is prepared to cooperate with the private sector.

Sukma complained: "The problem is we need a breakthrough. For the past 20 years the promotion and marketing of Indonesian tourism has always used the same formula bring a performing arts team; host a dinner, meet the press, and have meetings with the local tourism industry. (It's time) we directly approached the main markets and meet the consumers."

Sukma called for money to be spent on a new approach to promoting tourism based on the specific and very different characteristics of each market, utilizing sophisticated market analysis in every instance.

At the same time, Sukma warned: "If within 3 months time dating from the Vice President's request for a revised tourism target there has been no coordination (between the private and public sectors), then we might as well forget about it, even though the tourism associations are prepared to support any effort."

Sukma said he was confident that if the government cooperated with the tourism industry on both the local and national level the 7 million foreign visitor target was achievable.