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Interview: Michael Burchett, Chairman of the Bali Hotel Association Talks to the Chairman of BHA in 2007 – an Association Representing Nearly 75 Bali Hotels and 22,000 Guest Rooms.

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On December 18, 2006, the Bali Hotel Association (BHA) met to re-elect Michael Burchett, General Manager for the Conrad Bali Resort & Spa as its Chairman for 2007. caught up with Michael over the busy Christmas and New Year's holiday period for the following interview.

The Interview – Michael Burchett, Chairman of the Bali Hotel Association What was BHA's focus in 2006?

Burchett: In 2006 we focused our efforts on supporting BTB (Bali Tourism Board) and the Recovery Program. Unfortunately this was a frustrating time due to the bureaucratic delays created by the Ministry of Tourism, and poor communication with in BTB. In a time when quick action was required, unfortunately little happened until late in 2006. The initial coordination got off to a good start with the Perth Travel Show in February followed by ITB. Besides support received for several key events, other efforts slowed and became mired in red tape.

Finally, Bali's tourism industry spoke with "one voice" and the "Bali is my Life" campaign was created by IMM, who were appointed by the Ministry.

Up to today, the only official accounting for the IDR67 billion allocated by the President to support Bali's recovery, has been the IDR15 billion accounted for under the "Bali is my Life" program.

Our hope is that the final review of the Recovery Program will highlight some positive learning's for the future, as 2007 will also require close coordination and cooperation between Government and private sector. What is BHA's role in the tourism sector?

Burchett: BHA currently represents 75 member hotels, comprised of the 4 & 5 star hotels and the majority of other key properties operating in the international market. BHA has evolved into a significant voice for the tourism industry, and we take that responsibility seriously, and intend to continue using our influence to support Bali's tourism sector. We are associated with PHRI (the Indonesian Hotel & Restaurant Association), and also in regard to BTB, we work closely with ASITA (Association of Indonesian Tour and Travel Agents) & PATA (Pacific Asia Travel Association) and the other stakeholders.

In December 2005, BHA along with other tourism stakeholders supported the Resolution presented by UNWTO (United Nations World Tourism Organization) to focus on one body to represent Bali Tourism. At that time it was agreed that BTB would be that body; however significant restructuring of the current make up of BTB was and is required. This will remain a key focus for BHA in 2007, as we convinced, as supported by UNWTO's advice, that this is the way forward for Bali to maintain its position as a preferred holiday & MICE (meetings, incentive, conference and exhibition) destination.

Besides this important lobbyist function, BHA is active in all areas of marketing Bali on behalf of our members. BHA is also active in many social and community programs, representing and supporting our members in important areas such as environment, community affairs, education and training.

BHA has also positioned itself as a catalyst for change in the area of Security. Since the incident in October 2005, BHA sponsored an assessment of security in Bali and developed a plan to extend our member's responsibilities outside of our own boundaries and into the community. The corner stone for this program is the creation of Tourism Zones, which provide a safe and secure environment for the community and tourists visiting these zones. BHA provides support for this initiative through coordination with the Community, Police, Military and Bali Government. This program will continue to be a major focus for 2007. How can BHA influence Bali's tourism efforts in 2007?

Burchett: Because of our strong and active membership, BHA has a responsibility to encourage the Ministry of Tourism, BTA (Bali Tourism Authority), BTB and other tourism stakeholders to work together to market Bali in the most effective manner for the benefit of the entire Bali community. We feel the best way to achieve this will be through one coordinating body shared both financially and directionally by Government and Private sector. We hope that the proposed restructuring of BTB will provide this opportunity.

The key to success for the "new" BTB will be the hiring of professionals to manage Bali's marketing efforts. The elected Board should represent the industry as a whole, and include Government representation, and most importantly the board should play a role as "advisors" and not get involved in the day to day management of BTB; this must be left to professionals in the areas of marketing, public relations, communications and sales.

The "new" BTB needs to be supported by BTA and the Ministry of Tourism, who must become more transparent and keep the industry informed of their plans, well in advance, and involve the industry in their planning process through listening to the tourism industry's ideas and recommendations. What is BHA's forecast for 2007?I

Burchett: Good news, if we can all work together to market Bali and continue improving safety and security.

We must present a clear image of Bali to the international community, and highlight the efforts that have been and continue to be made to strengthen the safety and security measures already in place. Communication is important - the world is a different place since 2001, and particularly the incidents in Bali in 2002 & 2005; and we need to present a realistic picture of Bali.

Unfortunately some international communities have an unrealistic view of Bali, different to how they perceive other parts of the world - all we are asking is to be treated fairly; however we need to generate the reasons for fairness.

The last quarter of 2006 has shown some positive indications of what we can expect in 2007. All we need is a "clear run" without incident, or if there is, then to ensure that our response is coordinated and managed professionally.

In 2006 we experienced volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, health, safety & security issues - we have become the experts in managing "disasters"!!

2007 will be a great year for Bali if we speak with one voice - "Bali is my life" is supported fully by BHA and presents an image of Bali to the world that speaks volumes. We hope it will not be diluted by individual efforts, and that the restructuring of BTB will provide the focus for our members and Bali's tourism stakeholders to move forward.

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