As a member of ASEAN, Indonesia, its tourism industry in particular, is ready for the establishment of an ASEAN Community by 2015 when trade, services and manpower will flow freely within the region.
"Beginning in 2015, manpower in the tourism sector will flow freely within the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), but we are optimistic that the competitive edge of Indonesia`s human resources in the tourism sector is already strong," Head of Tourism Resources Development Agency of the Tourism Ministry I Gde Pitana said recently.
Indonesia`s human resources in the tourism sector would play a dominant role within the ASEAN region. To support this role, I Gde Pitana`s office had been making various efforts, among others, research, development and training.
"The research we have conducted is not always scientific in nature but practical so that it can be applied by industry at the technical and policy levels," he said. In the field of education I Gde Pitana`s office had set a target of increasing the number of graduates from higher learning institutes in tourism studies and tourism academies under the tourism ministry.
"We are optimistic because several indicators show that the competitive edge of our human resources in the tourism sector is improving," he said.
He said that in 2009, the World Economic Forum (WEF) placed Indonesia`s tourism human resources in the 40th position among 133 countries in the world. Moreover, Indonesia had for a long time been using a tourism educational curriculum based on the ASEAN Common Competency Standards for Tourism Professionals (ACCSTP). These standards were being aplied in the whole ASEAN region.
In the meantime, newly appointed Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Mari Elka Pangestu who replaced Jero Wacik, expressed her determination to make the tourism and creative economy sectors as a source of foreign exchange that contributed a lot to the national economy.
"I think we need discussions in this matter," she said. Though, the new tourism minister appreciated very much the achievement made so far by her predecessor Jero Wacik.
"I promise to continue Jero Wacik`s programs," Mari added.
Among the programs that deserved to be continued included the development of Belitung and Lombok islands as a tourism mainstay destination, the development of an airport in North Bali and Indonesia`s tourism branding "Wonderful Indonesia,"
Over the last three years, Jero Wacik was able to increase the number of foreign tourist arrivals in the country to 6.4 million in 2009 and over 7 million in 2010. This year the tourism ministry is targeting 7.7 million arrivals. Even, next year, the target is likely to be raised to 8 million.
"The target for this year is over seven million and until now 5.3 million foreign tourists had come to the country," Tourism and Creative Economy Deputy Minister Sapta Nirwandar said meanwhile.
He said that for 2012, Indonesia was expecting eight million foreign tourist arrivals.
Indonesia had set a higher target for 2012 because the number of foreign tourists to Southeast Asian countries was expected to grow by around five percent due to improving conditions in the region.