Tourism is F&#%-ed?

Indonesia just had a series of election, just in case you’ve been living under a rock, or you’re simply ignorant.


(Why does Indonesia’s elections matter, you might ask? Well, that’s another topic to discuss and I’m never going to discuss it. But fyi, on the top of my head, here are why Indonesia’s elections matter:

  • Indonesia is the third largest democratic country in the world
  • It is the biggest democratic Muslim country
  • It is the biggest archipelago
  • About 70% of us turned up for the presidential election and even more showed up for the legislative one.
  • The presidential election was the most polarised one in Indonesia’s history.)


I’ve been quite proud of the result. We’ve got a new president and (not-so-new) vice president. I’ve also been quite happy with what they’re offering, in regards to plans and governmental strategies. Although, their stand on environmental issues is still wobbly, which is quite upsetting.


Another upsetting thing is about a horrible, nasty, crazy, unbelievable rumour that I heard. There’s been a gossip about tourism and how it’s not going to become one of the new government’s biggest concerns. Again.


I don’t understand. The Government of Indonesia has been refusing to see tourism as one of the industries that can generate income and increase welfare, when managed properly.


Never, in 69 years of being independent, has tourism become extremely important that it has its own ministry. It has always been put together with other industries, as if its size is so minuscule. It has been receiving minimum funding and had to survive with minimum attention. (Read more)


Yet, earlier this year, it has generated about US$10 million foreign exchange. It’s the biggest GDP contributor, outside oil, gas, and mining sectors. (Read more or even more) Plus, UNWTO have come up with this fancy infographic to show everyone, including Government of Indonesia, how important tourism is.


I mean, hasn’t Indonesia learned from other tourism-driven countries? Surely Indonesia is aware of Costa Rica‘s ecotourism success. I bet the government has heard that France is the world’s number one tourist destination, AGAIN. Aren’t we jealous when they look at how well tourism in Thailand is? How about tourism growth in Vietnam? How do we compare with Myanmar – a country that just begins to open its doors?


As an Indonesian, I’m embarrassed, sad and angry. Sure, tourism is problematic and not a panacea. But to erase it all together at ministerial level rises questions. Two possibilities, I think: either the government doesn’t give a fuck, or it’s too complicated to managed and we’ve become too lazy.


I am afraid of being optimistic. However, I’ve been praying, from the bottom of my heart, as sincere as I can be, that the rumour isn’t true, the Government of Indonesia can come to their senses and take tourism seriously. Amen.



Thanks to this week’s Writing Challenge – I’ve gone from 579 to 505 and finally to 461 words!






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