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A Dream Industry Driven by Strong Communications

Prof. Dr. Gede Pitana, Tells Bali's Tourism Sector to be Loud, Clear, Accurate and Consistent in Communicating Security Information.

(1/4/2008) Professor Dr. Gde Pitana, the former head of the Bali Tourism Authority (BTA) and now an expert staff for the Minister of Culture and Tourism, offered his informed overview of Indonesia's tourism industry in a special op-ed piece published in the December 27, 2007 edition of the Bali Post.

Terming tourism as an industry that "sells dreams," Pitana said that the real challenge for tourism practitioners is not only in how to create dreams, but also in how to ensure dreams and expectations are realized by visitors to a destination.

In order to cultivate and create a positive image for Bali tourism, Pitana insisted that Bali must always provide the public with sufficient quality information that is accurate, consistent and transparent.

After promoting a destination with accurate and complete information, the main challenge remains in making sure client's dreams "come true" once they arrive in Bali. In former times, this task was described as involving the 3S that is, sea, sand and sun. The demands of modern tourism, according to Pitana, have changed this to become the 5S giving priority to the additional tasks of delivering security and safety.

In meeting the demands of safety and security, Bali has successfully introduced a double system of security following the tragic bombing of October 12, 2002. The two-tiered double system now in place in Bali relies on modern and sophisticated police tactics working in combination with the pacalang or community policing programs found in Bali's traditional villages.

Underlining the need for consistent communication, Pitana said external promotion of tourism must truly reflect the real situation on the ground in Bali. A failure to provide a complete and accurate picture of the security situation in Bali will, according to Pitana, have the potential of boomeranging and eventually hurt efforts to promote tourism. The respected academic and tourism policy-maker said the world is waiting to see Bali tourism demonstrate its serious-mindedness in publicity and communication. Fail to meet this challenge and Bali will suffer negative publicity at the hands of aggressive competing destinations in the region.

It's all About Communications

Pitana said Bali's tourism success depends on quality information being distributed to the world. To underline his point, he alluded to a survey conducted among 4,500 foreign visitors in 2005 that showed 22.91% of those interviewed came to Indonesia expecting a security situation that was "bad" or "very bad." However, after having visited Indonesia only 9.79% of the respondents though the security situation was either "bad" or "very bad."

Pitana told the Bali Post that such results prove that there is still a great deal to be done in communicating the actual situation on the ground in Indonesia.