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Chief of Tourism Board Resigns

Yudhara Calls it 'Quits' as Head of Bali Tourism Board (BTB). War of Word Breaks Out Between BTB and Hotel & Restaurant Association Chairman.

(11/18/2001) Mr. I Gusti Bagus Yudhara MBA has announced his resignation as Chairman of the Bali Tourism Board (BTB) effective November 1, 2001. The resignation, announced last week (November 15, 2001), after its acceptance by Bali's Governor, leaves BTB - the organization charged with coordinating the various tourism organizations and activities in Bali, embroiled in a heated public debate with the Chairman of another leading tourism organization on the island.

While the actual reasons for the resignation remain unclear, an interview with Mr. Yudhara carried in the November 15 edition of the Bali Post, indicated his unhappiness with allegations that BTB's goals had become lost among activities and duties outside the immediate concern of the island's tourism industry.

Among the severest critics of BTB is Mr. I Gde Wiratha, Chairman of the Bali Chapter of the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI). Mr. Wiratha has been quoted as claiming that the "working" tourism sector is inadequately represented in the management of BTB, that BTB lacks a commitment to tourism, and its management lack sufficient financial involvements in Bali's tourism sector. These strong allegations have brought a spirited response from BTB's Vice Chairman, Mr. Ir. Made Suryawan who has invited Mr. Wiratha to participate in a dialog with the BTB Board.

Rejecting the charges made against BTB, Mr. Suryawan has underlined that both tourism investors as well as other professionals are involved in the organization in keeping with BTB's role as a "think tank" and strategic partner of the Government in tourism policy matters. Quoted in the local press, Mr. Suryawan characterized Mr. Wiratha's statements as being both "irrelevant and unproductive" within the context of efforts to build teamwork among Bali's various tourism components.

In explaining the reasons for the invitation for a dialog issued to Mr. Wiratha in his capacity as the Chairman of the PHRI, Mr. Suryawan said BTB wishes to meet with both the Chairman and PHRI's membership in order to determine how familiar Mr. Wiratha is with the actual workings of BTB, while, at the same time, determining what standards are applied in measuring the overall efficacy of both the BTB and PHRI.

In disparaging the statements of the PHRI Chairman, Mr. Suryawan suggested Mr. Wiratha should possess a more thorough understanding of a problem before making any public pronouncements. He added that he was "fed up with tourism "celebrities" whose only talent was making statements to the press, but preferred to lay down when it becomes their turn to work."

Mr. Suryawan has been named as caretaker Chairman of the BTB until such a time as the stakeholders of BTB can be convened to select a new Chairman. Mr. Yudhara, who just resigned the top job at BTB, also serves as the Chairman of the Bali Chapter of the Association of Indonesian Travel Agents (ASITA), a position he still retains.

(Bali Post, 16 & 17 November 2001.)