A New Tourism Minister in Indonesia

Indonesia. Joko Widodo, government, Minister of Tourism

(Photo by Netmediatama - YouTube: The Best of Ini Talkshow - Nahloh, Andre Tama Kepergok Sama Wishnutama)

The presentation of the Joko Widodo 2 Government is an eclectic grouping of people coming from all Indonesian parties. Surprising were the nominations of two young ministers, one heading education and cultural affairs and the second one appointed to drive tourism.

Amid global economic uncertainty and expectations from Indonesian people of better economic growth, improved infrastructure and less corruption, President Joko Widodo last Wednesday announced his new Cabinet, having recruited politicians ranging from old- school style politicians as well as young professionals including the co-founder of ride-hailing firm Gojek.

“This is called Onward Indonesia Cabinet. Going forward, we will focus on human development, job creation and boosting opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises,” the Indonesian president declared just days after his inauguration for his second and final five-year term in office. Some experts called the Jokowi 2 team a “gado-gado” government, named after the famous Indonesian salad dish which mixes any ingredients…

Among the surprising nominations, the most charismatic figure will be Nadiem Makarim, Gojek co-founder, who was appointed Education and Cultural Affairs Minister. The new minister wants to push for technology in schools and universities as a tool to improve the quality of education.

The new Minister of tourism and creative economy is Wishnutama Kusubandio, a former journalist in television networks who was also the co-founder and also CEO of NET. Mediatama Televisi. Educated in Australia, Singapore and the USA, the new minister is replacing businessman Arif Yahya who headed the Ministry for the last five years.

Wishnutama Kusubandio will have the difficult task to bring more tourists to the country and boost tourism revenues, the second largest foreign reserves generator for the country.

The Minister in a first comment indicated his commitment to achieve this with new promotional events abroad, improved transportation at home but also by creating world-class events such as major art festivals, musical performances, sport events and business gatherings, all of which could lure huge numbers of tourists. “There will be many events we can seriously pursue in the future and that could become massive pull factors to attract visitors,” reported the Jakarta Post after listening to the new Minister during a speech  marking the transfer of duty from his predecessor, Arif Yahya.

“Tourism is more interesting when [we use] creativity to [create a product] that can be turned into a tourist attraction. We will create attraction; we will not only rely on nature, as nature is a gift, but how we make it a major attraction is very important,” Kusubandio added to local media.

Indonesia already has at least 100 big events a year. However, instead of focusing on the quantity of events, the Minister explained improving the quality was more important for the future. “Personally, I think we do not need so many events. Just a few is enough, but they must have high attraction,” he added.

He cited some examples, such as the well-known Coachella Music and Art Festival in California or the Tomorrowland festival in Belgium, which could attract many tourists every year.

Indonesia carries the same kind of potential to conduct such world-class events. Wishnutama Kusubandio took as a good example the MotoGP in Mandalika, West Nusa Tenggara, in 2021. The event is expected to attract 100,000 visitors. Another spectacular event was the 2018 Asian Games which attracted 150,000 foreign visitors, 1.85 million domestics tourists with total spending reaching IDR 3.6 trillion (US$260 million). In addition to musical performances or sport, the events could be large conferences with world-wide resonance.

The Minister will also have to boost the five super priority destinations that the outgoing Jokowi Cabinet 1 unveiled earlier this year. These are Mandalika in Lombok, Lake Toba in North Sumatra, Borobudur temple in Central Java, Labuan Bajo in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) and Likupang in North Sulawesi. The government will spend about IDR 9.3 trillion (US$670 million) until next year to finance basic infrastructure development in the five destinations

Wishnutama will work closely with Basuki Hadimuljono and Budi Karya Sumadi, who were both reappointed respectively as public works and housing minister and transportation minister. The target for the government is to reach the 20-million mark in foreign arrivals and375 million domestic tourists. No target date has however been given…