Monday, September 22, 2008

Is Indonesia Serious About Cruise Tourism?

The chairman of Indonesian Seafaring Foundation (Yayasan Cinta Bahari Indonesia -YCBI), Richard T. Lesmana, recently accused the government of sabotaging the 2008 "Sail Indonesia" event that invited foreign yachts to join an armada sailing through Eastern Indonesia.

Sail Indonesia is an annual yachting event that most recently saw 150 yachts from 15 countries set sail from Darwin, Australia to Batam, an Indonesian island near Singapore.

In a drive to promote sea tourism representatives of the Indonesian Department of Culture and Tourism have invested heavily in promoting internationally the lucrative yachts and cruise ship sectors, while large sums are being spent on new cruise infrastructure facilities in Bali and elsewhere.

These steps to encourage cruising are in stark contrast to the recent moves by the Custom's Department to impose bonds and guarantees that make Indonesia one of the world's least attractive cruise destinations.

The efficacy of the new taxation rules in devastating cruise tourism is hard to deny and can be gauged by the fact that of the 121 participating yachts "welcomed" by customs at the West Timor port of Kupang, apparently only 22 decided to continue their Indonesian journey to the subsequent North Bali port-of-call.

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