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Who Speaks for Indonesian Tourism?

Care Tourism Calls for the Department of Culture & Tourism to Appoint an Official Spokesman.

(7/20/2009) The Chairwoman of the tourism forum CARE Tourism, Wuryastuti Sunario, has called on the Department of Culture and Tourism to appoint an official spokesperson to keep both the general public and tourism circles informed on a number of issues, including the H1N1 Virus.

According to Sunario, "the Department of Culture and Tourism needs a spokesperson to openly explain about H1N1 and other matters that threaten ongoing tourism operations."

Sunario, a retired official of the Department of Culture and Tourism, said her forum had long told the Department to appoint a spokesperson who could collect information from all ministries of the government impacting on tourism. The need for such a role is made even more essential in the absence of the long-promised crisis center. "First, appoint a spokesperson, if we are not yet able to create the crisis center," Sunario insisted.

Quoted in the Bali Post, pointing to the multi-dimensional problems that have plagued Indonesian tourism, ranging from the Bali bombings to the H1N1 virus, Sunario said: "There must be a government body empowered to make statements on H1N1. The Department of Culture and Tourism must be able to provide information to the public and the press, informing on the anticipative steps being taken to prevent the spread of swine flu."

Calling on past experience, Sunario told of how Indonesian tourism was negatively impacted by "bird flu." She warned the same negative effects will be felt due to H1N1, despite the modest growth in national tourism recently achieved by Indonesia.

Pursuing her theme, Sunario continued: "In the Department of Foreign Affairs it is clear that Teuku Faizasyah is the official spokesman. But who speaks for the Department of Culture and Tourism? Is it the Director General of Marketing Sapta Nirwandar or Secretary-General Wardhyatmo? Who has been appointed to the spokesman's role? This must be announced so when something happens, the people and the press can hear what steps are being taken."

Sunario says that the problem of a spokesman cannot be put off indefinitely, particularly in the absence of tourist promotion board or the establishment of a crisis center.

Sunario reminded that any spokesperson eventually appointed to that role should be multi-lingual, have access to government circles and government ministers in order to ensure that the Department of Culture and Tourism is not continually left out of the communication loop on matters affecting national tourism.

Insisting that Indonesia has nothing to fear in providing detailed and accurate information, Sunario said: "Making statements regarding Flu A (H1N1) and mining in West Manggarai at the very time when Indonesia is trying to have the (adjacent) Komodo National Park named one of the world's natural wonders will not detract from Indonesia's image, but will, in fact, have the reverse effect."