Indonesia's tourism sector: a potential economic powerhouse
Prior to the appointment of Mr. Arief Yahya as Minister of Tourism in 2014, the tourism sector had never been a stand-alone ministry. Tourism had previously been a directorate of other ministries, such as Post and Telecommunications, Art and Culture, and the Creative Economy. Since 2014, as a stand-alone ministry, the Ministry of Tourism has been grouped with the Ministry of Transportation, Ministry for Seas and Fisheries, Ministry of Mining under the coordination of the Coordinating Minister of Maritime Affairs. This grouping is clearly aimed at improving coordination and mutual support between ministries with related portfolios.
Up to the early 1970’s, Indonesia had put limited focus on tourism. Oil & gas was the mainstay of the Indonesian economy and a powerful tourism sector was yet to be born. With the support of international institutions, including the World Bank, the government of Indonesia set about developing the tourism sector to reduce the county’s dependence on oil & gas as a key revenue earner. The most significant first step was the development of the now world-renowned Nusa Dua Resort in Bali in 1973. Developed and managed by the Bali Tourism Development Corporation, Nusa Dua not only pioneered self-contained tourism resort development in Indonesia, but also became a role model for tourism resort development in various other countries around the world.
Bali has for more than four decades been Indonesia’s primary tourist destination, yet Indonesia has many other potential tourism destinations, many of which have been developed to varying degrees. However, many more destinations await development or the achievement of their full potential. A significant number of other locations throughout the archipelago with excellent tourism potential so far remain virtually untouched.
In his first speech as Minister of Tourism, Arif Yahya stated that Indonesia’s tourism potentials are immense, adding that new breakthroughs are needed in the marketing of Indonesian tourism products through conventional means and through the most up-to-date digital technology. “We need to look outwards. To do that, Indonesia’s tourism needs to be based on international standards. These standards will center on 4 key aspects, these are: infrastructures, ICT (Information and Communication Technologies), health and hygiene”.