TOURISM sector can be a way out amid the current sluggish Indonesian economy. No wonder, if the government is really serious about developing the tourism sector.

The government has also established five national tourism strategic areas or New Bali with “super priority” status. No kidding, the five new priority Bali Bali will receive funding for infrastructure development worth IDR7.1 trillion in 2020.

According to Marwan Jafar, a member of the House of Representatives Commission VI said, such a large budget must be maximized to encourage various tourism facilities and infrastructure, ranging from roads, ports, to airports. The facility needs to be developed to encourage the optimization of the tourism sector.

In addition to infrastructure projects in the five national tourism strategic areas, there are many other tourism infrastructure development projects that also need to be supported. He gave an example, the planned development of the North Bali International Airport in the Regency of Buleleng because Ngurah Rai Airport was overloaded and crowded.

“Also the Benoa Port development project in Bali has an international standard which is very helpful for the smooth flow of goods and services and ecotourism aspects. The level of domestic or domestic tourist visits as well as foreign tourists will increase significantly with the completion of these two vital transportation infrastructures,” he said.

He added, for the sake of the smoothness of national strategic projects in the tourism area, coordination between parties must be maximized in order to avoid overlapping of authority until later operational.

“However, not only aspects of physical infrastructure, he also stressed the importance of efforts to increase human resource expertise in a number of state-owned transportation and airport and port managers as the main prerequisites for developing the tourism sector,” he added.

After the project is completed, the government must also be able to invite local investors. In the Tanjung Lesung Special Economic Zone, Banten, for example, the local government has not yet supported the development of Tanjung Lesung as a Special Economic Zone because investors have difficulties in licensing.

“If all these efforts can be done, it is not impossible in the next five years, tourism can be the number one contributor to foreign exchange for Indonesia. For example the contribution of the tourism sector in Thailand to gross domestic product (GDP) reached 20%. Malaysia and South Korea have also intensified their tourism,” he concluded. []