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An End to Balinese Boondoggles

Bali's Governor Cuts Overseas Cultural Missions to Promote Tourism.

Bali News: Bali, Tourism Promotion, Made Mangku Pastika
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Bali's Governor Made Mangku Pastika says the promotion of tourism via the sending of delegations on foreign visits is badly out of date, a waste of time and profitable only to those lucky enough to join such international tours.

"This is the era of the Internet. I have asked that the website of the provincial government be repaired and made into a promotional media. There's no need any more for these trips overseas," the Governor told the national news agency Antara.

These conclusions have prompted Bali's governor to drastically cut allocations for international promotional tours, saying his decision is supported by input he has received from Indonesia's ambassadors serving in several foreign capitals.

Said Pastika: "Reports we have received indicate that promotional entourages accompanied by art groups have only served to inconvenience our diplomatic missions. Those who watch the promotional programs are largely comprised of Indonesians living abroad. The participants use most of their time for (personal) touring."

Because of this, the Governor considers the promotion of tourism through the sending of cultural teams abroad to be both ineffective and inefficient; failing to achieve their stated goal to increase the desire of international travelers to come to Bali.

The Governor's resolve has only been strengthened by recent reports indicating the corruption of Rp. 3 billion (US$ 300,000) in tourism promotional funds. "Promotional activities that are ineffective, the misappropriation of funds, and now there are even reports of the corruption through the double debiting of expenses to fund from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism," Pastika bemoaned.

Governor Pastika also admitted that his cut back of international tourism promotional funds are spent has prompted a number of attacks on his leadership, saying: "That's not a problem, they will eventually understand. This is the period of information technology; the reservation of hotels and air tickets is taking place online."

Even though some of the Governor's policies are temporarily unpopular, Pastika remains committed to continue steps to seek savings of public funds in order to address the more pressing needs of the people of Bali.

Through a number of money-saving steps already introduced by the provincial government of Bali, the cash deposits of Bali have increased to Rp. 400 billion (US$42.1 million) while the cost of covering health expenses for the people in 2009 was only Rp. 27 billion (US$2.8 million), an amount that will increase to Rp. 127 billion (US$13.4 million) in 2010. The health coverage program introduced by Governor Pastika has extended free health coverage to all Balinese.

Commenting on his public health program, Pastika said: "Although my intentions are good and aimed at helping the public, many do not like (my policies). I am prepared to be unpopular as long as the programs are right and can benefit the public."

Governor Pastika desires that the hundreds of thousand poor people in Bali, by the end of his tenure in three and one-half years time, can be reduced to 50,000 poor families.

The governor underlined his desire to continue to seek savings in public expenditures in order to be able to fund educational and public welfare programs.

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