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Official Tourism Delegations Wasteful?

Bali's Top Economist Suggests Officials Should Stay at Home.

(12/17/2001) Dr. Nyoman Erawan, a leading economist from Bali's Udayana University has recently suggested that the means by which Bali's government promotes its tourism is ineffective.

In recent comments to the Indonesian-language Bali Post (12 December 2001), Dr. Erawan stated, "Bali's tourism promotion is very conventional. Sending arts groups abroad with the hope of stimulating group travel to Bali. It's time this entire approach was evaluated."

Suggesting that the promotion of tourism to date has not been based on clear data, he stated the general impression is that tourism officials have badly targeted their promotional trips. Citing his personal experience during a cultural mission to Hawaii, he explained how the U.S. audiences watching a Balinese cultural troupe perform responded in the negative to an informal survey trying to ascertain if the performance enhanced or detracted from their desire to visit Bali. Apparently, while the audience enjoyed the performance greatly, they somewhat surprisingly indicated they would now like to visit other destinations other than Bali whose dances they had not yet experienced. In short, the cultural presentation had the very opposite effect on the audience than that which was intended.

The respected professor of economics also called on both the Government and the private sector to make a more scientifically based approach to promotion. Changes in tourist flows must be studied and evaluated with research undertaken on-site in source markets offering potential growth in arrival statistics. To date, surveys have largely been conducted involving tourists already landed in Bali.

Finally, touching on the potentially politically sensitive area of including government officials in overseas cultural and promotion delegations, Dr. Erawan seemed to suggest that the presence of officials in such efforts was emblematic of the overall poor targeting of Bali's promotion efforts.