Interview: Abdulbar Mansoer
What impact do you expect the Covid-19 pandemic to have on the domestic tourism industry?
ABDULBAR MANSOER: Covid-19 has hit the Indonesian tourism industry quite hard, while also heavily impacting airlines, and it will take some time to recover; current projections estimate that recovery will take place in 2021. It is important that regulations on social distancing and self-isolation are respected and enforced. However, many businesses dependent on the tourism industry are suffering as a result of the pandemic. We have taken significant measures to help prepare tourism destinations to reduce the spread of the virus. Employees are expected to adhere to a strict health and safety protocol, and ample hand sanitisers and disinfectants are being made available at all public facilities. It will be very important for tourist destinations, including hotels and restaurants, to secure the trust of consumers once the Covid-19 pandemic is addressed – we want tourists to feel safe.
Indonesians should, once Covid-19 has been overcome, support local tourism. We have a remarkable country, and we are keen to support our fellow citizens who are dependent on the tourism industry. Even before Covid-19 we had seen a great increase in domestic travel, and travelling locally and exploring places within Indonesia will be very important for the industry to recover. Furthermore, projections highlight that Indonesia will have one of the largest aviation industries within the next 20 years, much of which will be attributed to domestic flights. The Wonderful Indonesia campaign, alongside social media and the work of influencers on these platforms, is allowing Indonesians to see how beautiful our country is.
With the Mandalika Grand Prix scheduled for 2021, what is the potential for sport tourism?
MANSOER: The Mandalika circuit is set to not only host the motorcycle Grand Prix, but also the Superbike World Championship that same year. Construction of the circuit is well under way and is in line with the predetermined timeline. We are also seeing an expansion of international flights straight to the island’s Lombok International Airport. Tickets for the Grand Prix have already been made available, and there has been a lot of local and international interest. Indonesia already has one of the largest fan bases around the world for motorcycle Grand Prix, so it is definitely an exciting growth segment for all stakeholders. The Mandalika circuit will be of such a high standard that we could potentially look to host a Formula 1 Grand Prix in the future, a possibility that we are exploring at the moment. As many livelihoods in Lombok rely on the tourism industry, and as the island is a priority development destination, events such as the Grand Prix provide an important boost to the local economy.
Indonesia has proven experience in hosting international sporting events – for example, the 2018 Asian Games was a huge success. Furthermore, the success of our surfing industry highlights the potential for sports tourism, with the annual Corona Bali Protected competition being one of the 11 key events on the World Surf League’s calendar. Indonesia has also become a premier golfing destination, and the yachting industry offers great potential.
How can human capital development be prioritised to support the tourism industry?
MANSOER: Indonesia’s tourism industry has immense potential and can provide employment to millions of citizens. Indonesians are culturally very hospitable and possess the skills required for the tourism industry. Nevertheless, there are certain standards that need to be maintained at five-star hotels, for example. We therefore need to ensure that Indonesians entering the tourism industry receive proper training. In order to achieve this, there are many fantastic hospitality courses at our universities and colleges, and vocational training is being implemented at various hotels.
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