Indonesia has not tapped the large potential of the cruise ship industry despite its vast maritime resources due to several challenges, an international seminar on cruise development on Monday heard.
The challenges include inadequate conditions, facilities, security and cleanliness at ports and policies, the seminar heard.
“None of the ports in Indonesia is currently of international standard,” cruise management consultant Hugues Lamy said at the seminar organized by the Culture and Tourism Ministry.
Lamy said internationally standardized cruise facilities were adapted to the sizes and capacities of cruise ships. The facilities would also cover ports and anchorages in compliance with the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS), such as tendering, and attractive and clean environments, he added.
Lamy said Indonesia’s policies on immigration and cabotage also affected the cruise ship industry.
“Port authorities need to better understand the cruise ship activity,” he said, adding that immigration processes in Indonesia should also be better organized.
Lamy further said the demand for cruise services around Indonesia, especially its the eastern part of the country, was increasing. However, many cruise ship companies did not want to take the risks due to the cabotage principle.
The principle requires all vessels operating in Indonesian waters to be domestically owned. The government exempts cruise ships and offshore vessels.
“Cruise ship companies don’t want to take risks because they are very concerned about unpredictable last-minute arbitrary decisions the government may declare,” Lamy said. “A regulation [is needed] to formalize conditions a cruise ship is subjected to, paying taxes for example, in order to cruise in Indonesian waters.”
Nikolaos Antalis, a port captain with Royal Caribbean International, echoed similar concerns about the cruise ship industry in Indonesia.
Antalis suggested urgent port improvements such as dredging channels to a depth of 11 meters to accommodate all sizes of cruise ships, dredging and maintaining to a depth of 10 meters the turning basins and across piers, improving cruise ship berths, providing facilities for disabled passengers and cleaning ports and surrounding areas.
“Passengers will act as ambassadors to promote Indonesia in their home countries so it is highly important to give a good image of Indonesia as a tourism destination,” he said.
Ministry director general for tourism and marketing Sapta Nirwandar said Indonesia registered 178 cruise calls with 113,875 passengers in 2011 and expected to increase this to 2,015 in 2012 with an estimated 137,279 passengers.
Culture and Tourism Minister Jero Wacik said on the sidelines of the seminar that the government was trying to improve regulations and cooperation to benefit the cruise industry.
“We have a big market but we are still unable to fulfill market demand,” he said.
“We will work with state-owned enterprises, including port operators, and other ministries, particularly the Transportation Ministry, to improve the sector.”
Source: Jakarta Post