News Focus - Salvaging Indonesia`s tourism industry amid Lion Air tragedy

News Focus - Salvaging Indonesia`s tourism industry amid Lion Air tragedy

Minister of Tourism Arief Yahya (center canceled the first flight reception event or inaugural flight of Garuda Indonesia for Singapore-Belitung route vv as a form of empathy for the crash of Lion Air JT 610 plane. (Hanni Sofia)

Bogor, W Java, (ANTARA News) - The incident of the Lion Air JT 610 aircraft, with 189 passengers, crashing into the Java Sea off Tanjung Karawang, West Java Province, on Monday (Oct 29), has saddened the victims` families.

Heartfelt condolences and sympathies go out to those who have lost their beloved ones in the tragedy. Apart from the miseries caused by this accident, a crucial lesson learnt is upholding Indonesia`s reputation in terms of transportation safety.

The good reputation that Indonesia has acquired is so significant for the country`s endeavor to rank among the world`s best tourist destinations. Hence, fatal transport accidents, such as the crash of Lion Air flight JT 610, should be handled seriously.

Over the past five months, a series of fatal accidents had occurred in Indonesia. On June 18, 2018, for instance, Motor Vessel "Sinar Bangun," reportedly carrying 202 passengers, sank to the bottom of Lake Toba in North Sumatra Province.

As a result, three passengers were killed, while 164 others went missing. Only 21 passengers survived the tragedy, which occurred when the Indonesian government was seriously promoting Lake Toba to be one of the 10 priority destinations "Beyond Bali."

In connection with the crash of Lion Air`s Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft, the Australian Federal Government has instructed its bureaucrats in Indonesia to not fly with Lion Air and its subsidiaries (the West Australian, 2018).

The warning that the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade had issued on Wednesday or a day before the Indonesian divers succeeded in finding the ill-fated Lion Air plane`s flight data recorder of the black box should be responded to seriously.

While attempting to understand the Australian Federal Government`s warning as a logical reaction to ensure the safety of its bureaucrats being assigned in Indonesia, what Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla has warned about should also be taken seriously by all airliners.

Kalla has urged all airlines, especially PT Lion Mentari Airlines, to further tighten their regulations and routine technical inspections to avoid the recurrence of similar fatal accidents in future.

"The point is that the company (Lion Air) as well as the regulator must tighten the technical inspection of aircraft," he noted on Tuesday.

The principle of safety first, as strongly suggested by Vice President Kalla, should always be prioritized because it, indeed, represents the interests of Indonesians and foreign visitors keen on travelling to cities and towns within the archipelago.

The need to maintain Indonesia`s reputation in transport safety is paramount amid the Indonesian government`s efforts to achieve the target of 17 million foreign tourist arrivals that it has set this year.

Referring to the Ministry of Tourism`s statistical data, Australia, Japan, China, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, India, the United States, Taiwan, and European countries were the top 10 contributors of foreign tourists to Indonesia.

The governments of these countries are highly concerned and sentient of the safety of their citizens while traveling abroad.

In a bid to repair the damage likely caused to Indonesia`s reputation in transport safety in the aftermath of a series of fatal transport accidents, including the latest crash of Lion Air flight JT 610, all related stakeholders need to play an active role.

Indonesia`s participation in the 2018 World Travel Market (WTM) London, held in Manchester on Oct 30 and in London on Nov 5-7, offers a viable opportunity to government officials and tourism business players to convince foreigners.

Aimed at attracting more British tourists to visit the archipelago, Indonesia can utilize the WTM London as an event for not just highlighting and promoting the diversity of its popular destinations but also its people`s cultures and heritage.

The event can also help to highlight Indonesia`s concrete responses to improving its transport safety in the aftermath of the Lion Air tragedy and the success of its reputable airlines, particularly Garuda Indonesia, in gaining international recognition.

Tourists from the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Russia have become the top five contributors to foreign tourist arrivals to Indonesia over the past few years.

The market value of the five European countries was recorded at over US$1 million, with the average length of stay being almost two weeks, or 13.7 days.

In 2017, as many as 361,197 British tourists had visited Indonesia, or increased some 9.8 percent as compared to 328,882 visitors recorded in 2016. As of August 2018, a total of 264,023 British people enjoyed their holidays in the archipelago.

Hence, there is a dire need to find a comprehensive solution to the problems that may have contributed to the occurrences of several transport accidents in the country, including the Lion Air flight JT 610, to minimize their impact on Indonesia`s tourism industry.

 (T.R013/B/KR-BSR/A/R013) 01-11-2018 15:50:57