Bisnis.com quotes Al Purwa, Chairman of the Bali branch of the Indonesian Association of Travel Agents (ASITA), as bemoaning the lack of proper tourism management by the government which has resulted in minimal returns for Bali's tourism economy, despite rising arrival numbers.
Explained Purwa: "the weakness of our tourism product is due to the fact that the tourism operators are not 'solid.' Meanwhile, the local government pays little attention to issues of supply and demand in granting new business permits which results in unhealthy competition in the market place."
As reported on Balidiscovery.com, Bali foreign tourist arrivals continue to buck global trends, operating in record territory for Q1 of 2009 [See: Bali Q1 2009 Arrivals Up 4.7%].
According to Purwa, despite record arrivals, the increase in average occupancy rates among Bali hotels has been very modest, reflecting the overall problem of the government's refusal to address supply-side issues. New hotel and villa permits are issued and new travel agencies are licensed without any effort on the government's part to protect existing travel operators.
Admitting that the meetings, incentive, conference and exhibition business (MICE) continues apace and that more Chinese tourists flow to Bali, Purwa said the level of expenditure within the tourism sector is falling below expectations.
To illustrate his complaint that the Bali tourism industry is less than "solid" the ASITA Chairman cited how Chinese guides handling that market demand high fees from travel agencies already laboring under the burden of narrow profit margins.
Purwa also alluded to Macau and neighboring countries in the region that are prepared to subsidize tourism products and spend generously on promotion while Indonesia under spends badly in those areas.
Lamenting the sad current state of affairs, Al Purwa is saddened by the fact that after trying to develop tourism for four decades, some 137,000 Balinese still live below the poverty line. Macau, on the other hand, has spent less than 10 years developing its tourism industry and manages to attract 20 million foreign tourists every year, a figure targeted by Macau to grow to 50 million within 5 years.
Purwa is also critical of how tourism promotion funds are spent by Indonesia's Department of Culture and Tourism, saying how those fund's final use is not transparent and, as a result, difficult for tourism industry members to ascertain the effectiveness of current promotion programs.
Asked Purwa, "Do we want to chase statistics or make tourism a means to improve the people's welfare?"
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