Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Tourism Minister: Indonesians Are ‘Authentically Polite’ People

Indonesian Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Mari Elka Pangestu talked about the potential of Indonesian diaspora network in promoting the country through cultures during the second Congress of Indonesian Diaspora, in Jakarta, on Aug. 18-19.
Mari said that Indonesia has a wide range of stories and cultural identities, which make marketing its cultures a difficult task. In each creative economy sector, the Ministry has selected a few “icons” and has prepared standardized information and publications so that the diaspora network can utilize them when promoting Indonesia through their overseas events.
She urged that all Indonesians overseas can help to promote Indonesia in any capacity that they can.
In your opinion, what are the potentials of Indonesian diaspora in promoting Indonesia’s tourism and creative economy sector?
There is a huge potential. We hope that the diasporas can be our ambassadors who can help promote Indonesia to communities where they reside. The important thing is how we [Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy] can utilize this network by providing information or supporting their events in terms of promoting them.
Specifically for creative economy sectors, we hope to help expand for a greater market including providing ideas, resources and solutions. We are in the process of developing these creative industries. For example, in fashion, if you have a network to promote a fashion brand at a city where you reside, that would be a great asset to promote our creative economy industries globally.
What are the steps that the Ministry will or has taken to utilize this potential?
We are preparing several things. The first is to brand Indonesian tourism. Indonesia has too many stories to be told, in which the message will not be easily remembered. Hence, we have to focus on two to three key messages. When you talk about beautiful scenery and rich cultural diversity, many countries would also have the same thing [to promote].
So what make Indonesia stands out from other countries? We think that it is our people. Here, we can then reflect the beautiful scenery and cultural diversity through the people. According to surveys that we have conducted in search of our nation branding, Indonesians are not just regarded as polite, but also ‘authentic’. I think that is the best word to describe us as Indonesians who are authentically polite.
And throughout history, we are always open to other cultures, such as from China, Arab or India. Hence, our culture is rich and diversified. This is the main key message that we want to market. We have prepared materials, such as movies, gifts and brochures that can be distributed through these networks.
Similarly, for creative economy, we have too many goods to sell. Hence, we need to focus on a few key items that diaspora can keep on promoting, starting with what is already Unesco cultural heritage – batik, wayang, angklung. These three have been regularly promoted by the Indonesian diaspora and we need to continue these efforts.
For fashion, we aim to make Indonesia as a Muslim fashion capital by 2020 and diaspora residing in other Muslim countries can help to promote. For culinary, like other creative industries, we have too many Indonesian foods. Through long discussions with many stakeholders, we have chosen 30 iconic Indonesian culinary items. Hence for now, we will focus on these 30 items. We have prepared materials with standardized information and recipes that can be easily replicated and be used during Indonesian events by embassies or restaurants. These are few concrete plans that are ready for implementation and there will be more.
Do you have any messages for diasporas to be more pro-active and involved in the programs that the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy has planned?
It must be two-way. We will outreach these diaspora networks overseas as well as to involve the local residents. We want participations from local residents to be involved in our cultural events overseas. We have also prepared materials with standardized information that can be utilized by the diaspora to promote Indonesia.
This article originally appeared in Global Indonesian Voices, an independent online media written by Indonesians abroad. The video interview with Tourism Minister Mari Elka Pangestu is available here.
(Jakarta Globe)

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