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Will President Joko Widodo Retain Arief Yahya as Tourism Minister?

Indonesian Tourism Ministers’ Report Card after Five Years: Much to be Praised

With the re-election of Joko Widodo as President of the Republic now virtually assured, all eyes in Indonesia turn to see the composition of his new Cabinet as the President embarks on a new five year term. And, while the President is remaining tight-lipped on who will join him in the Cabinet Room, he has given hints to the media saying that changes will be coming and that he is looking to appoint a youthful and highly results-oriented group of Ministers to help him fulfil his ambitions for Indonesia over his coming and final five years in office

No official comments has been made on the fate of Arief Yahya, the 14th man to serve as the Minister of Tourism. Appointed as a Minister in October of 2014, Yahya was born in Banyuwangi, East Java in 1961 and graduated as an electrical engineer from the prestigious Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) with post graduate work at the University of Surrey and Padjadjaran. Before joining the cabinet, Yahya served a two-year stint as the CEO of the State-owned Telkom Indonesia.

Will the 58-year-old Minister Yahya be retained in President Joko Widodo’s new cabinet? Only time and President Widodo will answer that question.

But at this juncture in time, it would not be inappropriate to review the highlights of Arief Yahya’s past five years in office.

Marketing Achievements

  • While it looks doubtful that Indonesia will end 2019 with the 20 million tourist pledged to the Republic when he became Minister, the growth in foreign tourism is an impressive 49% for the three years 2014-2017, compared to the 23% rate of growth in the preceding three years 2011-2014. With 15.8 Million foreign tourists welcomed nation-wide in 2018, it seems highly improbable that Indonesian can grow year-on-year by some 27% in 2019 needed to meet and surpass the 20 million tourist target.
  • Indonesia’s 22% growth rate for foreign tourists in 2017 was also impressive when compared to only 7% combined growth in foreign tourists for the 10-member countries of ASEAN and an average world-wide growth rate of tourism of just 6.4%.
  • During Minister Yahya’s reign, Indonesia has earned some 46 international awards in tourism from 22 countries in 2016, 26 awards from 13 countries in 2017, and 66 awards from 15 countries in 2018. Over the entire four years Indonesian tourism garnered 139 awards across 50 categories of selection from 50 different countries.

Destination Award and Achievements

  • The Ministry has launched the 10 “New Bali’s” as a means to help stimulated the drive for 20 million foreign visitors by 2019 and to reduce carrying capacity strains on the traditional tourism gateway of Bali.
  • Tourism-related investment in 2017 increased 32.17% over 2016.
  • Based on an extensive lobbying effort by the Ministry of Tourism, Special Funding Allocations (Dana Alokasi Khusus-DAK) to develop the tourism sector in 2019 increased 100-fold compared with 2016. In 2016, DAKs from 59 regions totaled Rp. 328 billion, while in 2019 the total DAKs for tourism totaled Rp. 36.63 trillion.
  • For 2019 the recommendation for tourism DAKs would have extended to 487 regions (27 provinces/460 regencies/municipalities) with a grand total of Rp. 36.63 trillion. However, due to funding limitations, the 2019 DAKs will total only Rp. 1.003 trillion.

Human Resources and Manpower

  • The Minister has succeeded in campaigning for the professional certification of 400,000 tourism workers during the period 2014-2018. An additional 100,000 private sector tourism workers will receive certification in 2019, bringing the total certified with a tourism competency to 500,000. The certification system employed by Indonesia has been acknowledge as meeting the standards of the Mutual Recognition Arrangement on Tourism Professionals (MRA-TP) which is officially recognized by ASEAN.
  • The Ministry of Tourism has introduced a UN World Tourism-based standard for professional tourism studies (TEDQUAL UNWTO) in all Indonesian tourism academies under the control of the Ministery. He has also established two tourism polytechnics in Palembang, South Sumatra and Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara, bringing the total number of national polytechnics to 6.
  • The Ministry calculates that 100% of graduates from a State-owned Polytechnics are employed with 40% obtaining employment abroad.

Public Sector Management

  • The State Audit Board (BPK) says disclaimers published with regards to the Tourism Ministry’s 2014 budget have been successfully addressed and are now listed as “Satisfactory without Exception” (WTP) for each of the three ensuing years.
  • In 2015 and 2016, The Tourism Ministry’s rating of "B" for reforming the bureaucracy of was improved to a "BB" rating in 2017.
  • The Tourism Ministry has digitalized many of its functions by introducing, among others, e-performance and e-budgeting.

Other Achievements

  • Indonesia scored 64.94 points out of 100 on the 2018 Global Competitiveness Report published by the World Economic Forum. The Competitiveness Index in Indonesia averaged 14.35 Points from 2007 until 2018, reaching an all-time high of 64.94 Points in 2018 and a record low of 4.18 Points in 2007.
  • Tourism is now squarely placed among Indonesia’s 3 leading economic sectors together with agriculture and fisheries.
  • The TTG Awards (Travel Trade Gazette) names the Indonesian Ministry of Tourism as the “The Best Ministry of Tourism” in the Asia-Pacific Region.
  • The World Economic Forum gave a ranking of 42 to Indonesia for Tourism Competitiveness in 2017, up from a #70 ranking just four years before in 2013.

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