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Tour operators pledge to help Indonesia

As part of its post-tsunami Phuket Action Plan to restore consumer confidence in southern Asia, the World Tourism Organization organized in September a familiarization trip for European tour operators…

As part of its post-tsunami Phuket Action Plan to restore consumer confidence in southern Asia, the World Tourism Organization organized in September a familiarization trip for European tour operators to visit four of Indonesia`s leading tourism destinations, Yogyakarta (Java), Surabaya, Bali and Lombok.



Although none of these islands were directly affected by the tidal wave triggered by an underwater earthquake off the far northwestern province of Aceh in December, with tourism facilities and products remaining fully operational, all have suffered as the negative image from intensive media coverage has impacted on arrivals.



The country`s 31 per cent year on year growth in tourism recorded in 2004 has turned to a 4 per cent fall in the first seven months of this year, according to the Indonesian Ministry of Culture and Tourism, which co-organized the fam trip.



For both WTO and the Ministry, the prime objective of the visit was to help in boosting the marketing of Indonesia and restoring a positive image in generating markets still suffering lingering fears from viewing the harrowing television news scenes of the tsunami damage.



Having experienced the warm hospitality and friendliness of the Indonesian people, members of the operators group recognized that while the country has much tourism potential to develop it is suffering from a lack of awareness among the public.



Despite the latest terrorist outrage in Bali, they felt Indonesia was no more dangerous than other countries that have suffered attacks – among them the UK, the United States, Spain and Egypt – and that the country`s leading destination will recover soon.



By encouraging potential tourists to visit Indonesia, they hope to prove that the perpetrators are fighting a losing battle in targetting tourist resorts. Those taking part in the fam trip were: Rob Haynes, Head of Product for Somak Holidays, representing the UK; Lars Thykier, Managing Director of the Danish Association of Travel Agents and Tour Operators (DRF); Gerard de Vries Lentsch, Secretary-General of the Dutch Association of Tour Operators (ANVR); and Maribel Rodrigo, Asia manager for Spanish operator CATAI.

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