Ni Komang Erviani , The Jakarta Post , Denpasar | Tue, 10/28/2008 10:27 AM | Bali
U.S. Ambassador Cameron Hume said Monday the U.S. government was ready to help promote Bali to American citizens, acknowledging the Indonesian government’s seriousness in maintaining the island’s security.
“I want to bring together tourism professionals from both countries so there will be a more serious and large-scale tourism campaign to bring more Americans to this island,” Hume told reporters after a closed meeting with officials from the Bali Tourism Board (BTB) in Denpasar.
The U.S. government was among those which recommended against its citizens visiting Bali over security concerns following the Bali bombing attacks in 2002 and 2005.
The lifting of the travel restriction made earlier this year signified a major improvement in U.S. government foreign policy toward Bali.
Hume said apart from conducting regular information campaigns about Bali, they could promote the island through the latest media formats, including GPS (Global Positioning System) technology available on the Google Earth application on the Internet.
By August this year, Bali’s tourism agency recorded that almost 47,000 Americans visited the island.
BTB chairman Ngurah Wijaya said he was enthusiastic about the U.S. plans and expected they could arrange further technical meetings to discuss ideas in the immediate future.
“I hope the plan will materialize soon enough,” he said.
Separately, a group of Indonesian honorary consuls from countries across Latin America, Europe and Africa have traveled to Bali to learn about the culture firsthand under an initiative by the Indonesian government, an official said.
The group’s leader, Handriyo Kusumo Prio, also an official from the Foreign Ministry, said the group earlier visited Yogyakarta for the same reason.
“It is the government’s token of appreciation for years of their voluntary work promoting Indonesia,” Prio said.
Throughout the 10-day visit, he added, the government expected the honorary consuls would update their knowledge about Indonesia.
“So they can further promote Indonesia in their countries,” he added.
The Indonesian government has appointed 64 honorary consuls around the world. These consuls, mostly local tourism business people and professionals were chosen to assist the government promote Indonesia’s tourism to their international counterparts.
The consuls, all volunteers, come from countries such as Australia, Brazil, India, Ireland, Nepal, Paraguay, Portugal, Russia, Spain, and Turkey.
On their first day in Bali on Monday, the honorary consuls met Governor Made Mangku Pastika for an initial briefing.
“Hopefully your stay in Bali will enable you to explore the beauty of our island, so you can pass on what you have learned to others overseas,” Pastika told the consuls.
He said the visit was significant considering the government’s current efforts maintaining the island’s security situation.
“Let the consuls see that we mean business here,” he said.
The consuls will visit the Taman Ayun Grand Temple in Mengwi, Tanah Lot Temple in Tabanan and the Tampak Siring Presidential Palace in Gianyar.
Nalan Rimer of Turkey said she was excited by her firsthand experiences of Bali.
“Now I have completed my knowledge, as I have had the chance to experience Bali for myself.”