Minimum funding hinders tourism promotion: Agency

The provincial administration claims that 2014 tourism promotions will be limited due to low funding.

Bali Tourism Agency’s promotions head, I Nyoman Wardawan, said Thursday that promotions funding in the 2014 regional budget (APBD) amounted to Rp 1 billion (US$83,200) — similar to this year — and claimed this was too little.

“The amount is similar to that in 2013, and we consider this small considering that tourism is Bali’s economic backbone,” Wardawan said.

“To sustain the economy, or even improve it, we need more funds to promote tourism,” he stated.

Wardawan stressed that tourism was Bali’s top source of income and was a barometer for the country’s tourist industry. With increasing competition in the industry, Bali was still expected to maintain its position as a top tourist destination through creative and innovative promotional programs, he said.

With the limited funds, Wardana said that his side would introduce a set of programs to achieve the best result possible.

Promotional events include participation in the annual Internationale Tourismus-Borse trade fair in Berlin and World Travel Market in London.

“At least we will participate with the most effective fund usage in large international events that have wide coverage,” he said.

Wardana mentioned the possibility of proposing additional funding during the budget revision in June/July to be used for promotions especially to Japan, India and China, with various sales missions and roadshows.

He expected a special portion of funding from hotel and restaurant taxes paid by Badung and Denpasar each year. He also suggested that regencies with a high income from tourism set aside sufficient funds for their own promotions.

Separately, the Bali Tourism Promotion Body (BPPD) head, Tjokorda Oka Artha Ardhana Sukawati, said the administration had yet to disseminate information related to funding.

“We have proposed funds [for programs], but there’s been no clarity. In fact, the law stipulates that the board was established by the government and we are entitled to funds from the central and regional budgets,” he said.

Ardhana reiterated that competition was increasing among tourist destinations. Tourism products were being offered all over the world and new competitors were entering the market, therefore quality was essential in maintaining tourism, he said.

“Therefore, we should keep promoting our products so that they don’t lag behind other countries,” he said. “Moreover, newbie travelers are increasing in number and they are in need of information.”

Ardhana said his side would focus on promoting MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions), sports, leisure, silver (travels for retirees) and creative tourism.

The board projected that it would require at least Rp 59 billion to run its programs next year, this to be taken from the provincial budget (Rp 38 billion) and private investors (Rp 21 billion).

Meanwhile, Indonesian Tourism Promotion Board (BPPI) head, Wiryanti Sukamdani, lamented the low promotions funding, saying that it required at least $10 to entice one foreign tourist to the country.

She said this was what was evidenced in Singapore and Malaysia.

Wiryanti said tourism was in the top five largest contributors to state income, outside the oil and gas sector. The industry had produced a variety of job opportunities for millions of workers, she said.