Indonesian tourism players split on government recovery plans

Government directions to salvage Indonesia’s ailing tourism industry by speeding up development of five super priority destinations as well as nursing Bali back to health have inspired debate among industry stakeholders.

At a recent Reviving the Tourism Industry Webinar, minister of tourism and creative economy Sandiaga Uno stressed the importance of Bali as a critical contributor to the country’s tourism and creative economic sector. As such, he intended to share his recovery focus on both Bali as well as the five super priority destinations, being Lake Toba in North Sumatra, Borobudur in Central Java, Labuan Bajo in East Nusa Tenggara, Mandalika in West Nusa Tenggara and Likupang in North Sulawesi.

The Indonesian government intends to rebuild the country’s tourism industry on Bali’s recovery and development of five super priority destinations; Uluwatu Temple pictured

Objecting the approach, Hariyadi Sukamdani, chairman of Indonesia Hotel and Restaurant Association, opined that the government should focus solely on Bali first in its recovery efforts.

“(Doing both at the same time) will require (too much energy) and may not be effective,” Hariyadi explained.

He asserted that Bali alone can restart Indonesia’s tourism industry quickly, as the destination has complete infrastructure and attractions while the five super priority destinations are still in development.

Citing some examples, Hariyadi said Lake Toba still needed hotels and restaurants with “decent service” while Borobudur Temple Ground and Komodo Island, which have a capacity limit, needed more events and attractions in the surrounding areas to stimulate demand.

Likupang also lacks infrastructure and tourist attractions as traffic pullers,” he added.

On the other hand, Viktor Laiskodat, governor of East Nusa Tenggara (NTT), supports the government’s move, saying that the current travel downtime presents an opportunity to develop new destinations such as Labuan Bajo and Komodo National Park.

“(Now) is the right time to develop facilities, infrastructure and connectivity (to allow) NTT to catch up with the other provinces. When the pandemic is over, tourists can see NTT’s transformation,” he said.

Nurdin Abdullah, governor of South Sulawesi, also hopes that the national tourism authority will consider developing his region, which boasts popular attractions such as Toraja, Selayar island and Taka Bonerate National Park. He added that South Sulawesi’s new airport aids accessibility and is capable of accommodating ATR-72 aircraft.

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