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Perspectives on Environment, Culture and International Collaboration


Setyanto P. Santosa
Executive Chairman of Indonesia Culture and Tourism Board

Panel Remarks

When the news first came through about the nightmare in Bali, my first thought were of the victims and their families, for the injured and the hope of their swift recovery, for the shocked local population and the traumatized community. It was with a heavy heart that we inspected the damage and met the injured victims. Indeed this was a monstrous act. However we have to go on. We are the victims of this terrible event not the perpetrators. Now we can see this type of terror can happen anywhere in the world even in the most peaceful place such as Bali. Terrorism takes its toll no matter where it strikes. It can be in a Russian theatre where people were taken as hostages, a sniper targeting men, women and children in the U.S., a missile targeting a commercial plane in Kenya, or the barbaric men setting off bombs in Bali. Terrorism affects us all, but humankind must not surrender to terrorism. The spirit of tourism and economy must not be devastated by terrorism, or else the very purpose of terrorism succeeds in the first place.

Indonesia has long enjoyed a reputation for great beauty, friendly people, and diverse culture. People also remember Indonesia for the cascading terraced rice paddies converged in palm-tree groves divided by rushing rivers. It is remembered as the place where commanding waves of the Indian Ocean break onto black and white-sand beaches. In figures, the Indonesia tourism, one third of it generated in Bali, accounts for 8.9 per cent of Indonesia's gross domestic product. Indonesia's tourism industry employs more than 12 million people, 7.36 million direct related and 5.08 million indirect related to tourism and takes in over US$ 5 billion in revenues each year. Bali accounts for about 35 percent of the total.

Tourism is the second largest non-oil-and-gas foreign exchange earner for Indonesia, after the textile/ garment industry. The industry contributed US$ 5.7 billion and US$ 5.4 billion in foreign exchange to the government's coffers in 2000 and 2001, respectively. In 2001, Bali generated some $1.4 billion in foreign exchange earnings from the tourism sector, or more than 25 percent of the national foreign exchange earnings, which stood at $5.4 billion. The immediate impact of the Bali tragedy is not only felt by the tourism industry. Many others were also caught in the shock waves. Thousands of small businesses from other regions such as Java, Lombok and Sulawesi or Celebes which produce goods and services for the tourist trade in Bali, were affected in the aftermath of the bombings, adding to already high unemployment. In addition to the tragic loss of life and the potentially huge loss of livelihoods in Bali, all Indonesians will be affected by lower growth, investment and job creation. A year from the tragedy , two to three million more Indonesians could be living below the poverty line than would have been the case without the attack. Equally devastating are the foreign tourists arrival at Bali's International Airport. While cancellations of groups and individual passengers were of tidal intensity during the week following the blast, the fact is that new bookings for holiday trips to this country have slowed down to a trickle, foreshadowing a long and prolonged drought of visitors for the months or years ahead.

If you ask what will the Indonesian tourism scenery look like in two, five years from now, I will tell you that it will be full of cautious optimism. Experience dictates that cautiousness pays. World tourism security becomes the main concern today. Indonesia responded to the challenge with the introduction of harsher laws and regulations to give assurance to the travelers, with the tourism police, a special section within the Indonesian police force installed for several years. There is a lively discussion now within the Indonesian village communities to empower traditional local community security guards to take care of visitors in their areas. This could prove to be a powerful security force just like the 'pecalang' in Bali.

We prepared that recovery will come in three stages. Stage one - a rescue - which to a large degree has already been successfully implemented is the immediate increase in domestic demand. This was apparent in the 2002 Christmas and New Year traffic which was predominantly domestic tourist. Stage Two - rehabilitation - will be an enhanced effort at Intra Asian tourism from core markets such as ASEAN, Taiwan, Japan and Korea. With concerted marketing efforts in these region, wed will see recovery in arrival numbers. Stage Three - revitalization - which will likely only occur after the immediate memory of the tragedy has disappeared. We will focus on the traditional long-haul markets from Europe and North America.. Meanwhile the Australian market, for whom the memory of the bombing is most prevalent, will recover, but only in due course and with a subtle marketing approach, one that embraces the healing process.

Having informed you the current situation in Indonesia, please allow me to touch the main topic of our discussion in this session.

We are all aware that tourism is one of the world's fastest growing and oldest industries. With the advent of industrialization people started moving in a large numbers to places away from their usual places of residence and work with a view to seek change. This trend continued until tourism became a great mass phenomenon. This phenomenon is a visible result of the great technological development which had changed the social geography of the world since the ninteenth century. Thomas Cook, the pioneer of organized mass tourism, had stated that "God's earth in all its fullness and beauty is for the people". Travel from the earliest times has held a fascination for mankind. The urge to explore new places within one's own country or outside and seek a change of environment and experience has been there from ancient times.

Although there have been temporary setbacks in the number of tourist movement in one region or country due to the territorial crisis or disasters, tourism has withstood the change of circumstances in national and international economies better than other sector of the economy. Even Herman Kahn, one of the leading futurologist of the world, predicting a golden era for tourism, as he said, " I see a very bright future ahead for tourism and travel industry. There are clouds on the horizon, to be sure, but it will become a larger giant than it alreadyis in the next decades."

From the culture point of view, tourism establishes contact between visitor and host, between different cultures, between peoples and places. To travel means cross boundaries, visit new places and encounter different cultures is a learning process that leaves the visitors wiser and more tolerant. Therefore tourism contributes to a better understanding between the peoples of the world. It opens the eyes of people so that we can see one another as we are - equal human beings - each person with his or her own unique culture, values, history, traditions and customs.

Peace and tourism belong are interrelated. Without peace there can be no tourism, but tourism can also contribute to the peace process. Peace is not a destination, peace is a journey which demand continues efforts. Peace also depends on safety and security. To make the world safer and more secure must be solved the roots cause of conflicts then the people of the world will ever enjoy peace and security. Among the roots is the poverty. And we believe that poverty is one of the contributing factors to insecurity and instability, therefore poverty could be a thread to peace. In this regard the role of tourism as the creator of jobs brings hope and opportunity to poor and shattered community. And from this understanding tourism and peace are linked together particularly in the developing world. People also believe that poverty accelerates the environmental degradation, the ecosystem. And it is more obvious that peace does not only relate to harmony between people and people but also harmony between man and nature. And tourism is ideally suited to balance development with heritage conservation both natural and environment. If it were not for tourism a large proportion of the world's cultural inheritance would remained in a dilapidated state or even lost forever. Therefore there should be a portion of the incomes generated by tourism should be contributed to the restoration and maintenance of most of the world heritage sites.

The understanding of culture heritage has changed considerably and has been enriched by new categories such as those of historical sites, or a cultural landscape or environment and its living culture including social practices, traditional knowledge, beliefs and practices about nature as well as the non-perpetuated contents of creativity, languages and oral tradition. The protection of culture is the development and transmission to the future generations. This is moral imperatives, inseparable from the respect of the dignity of the human person and a willingness to live together on the part of individuals and groups with multiple cultural identities.

As I mentioned earlier, that tourism also makes a tremendous contribution to the improvement of social and political understanding. Travel fosters a better raport between people with different lifestyle. Personal international contact have always been an important way of spreading ideas about other cultures. Tourism is thus an important means of promoting cultureal exchanges and international cooperation.

The experiences gained through international cooperation by Indonesia, was during the Bali tragedy. The big tourism international organizations have shown the solidarity, among others Presiden/CEO of PATA (Pacific Asia Travel Association), Mr. Peter de Jong, took a very strategic step in assisting Indonesia to manage and handle the crisis, and established a task force for the long term recovery plan for tourism in Bali. On the third day after the tragedy, the President of WATTC, Mr. J.C. Baumgarten flew to Bali, in the midst of travel warnings bombarding, to assist the industry in handling the crisis. WTO (World Tourism Organization) was also forming a task force to assist the Indonesian government to recover Bali's tourism. Since then we realized that Bali is no longer belong to us, Bali belongs to the world , to the international community.

Let me conclude that through building a culture of peace through tourism, the perspective on environment, culture and international collaboration will be in bright future ahead. The elements are interrelated- the one contributes to the other. However in the end peace remains the most important and precious of all. Without peace there can be no tourism and there will be no sustainable environment, therefore every effort to promote peace-even though small- is important.

Finally, I would to appeal to you to keep Indonesia and particularly Bali in your mind, not as a flaming bombsite but as the island of God, where already the people are starting to put their lives back in order so they may welcome visitors again. It may not be tomorrow but when that day comes, you know the Balinese as well as Indonesian people will be waiting to welcome you in their own warm and friendly way.

Bali is Bali forever …………..

International Institute for Peace Through Tourism