Pushing for vision and leadership

Stakeholders of Indonesia’s business events sector are urging the formation of a national convention bureau that will lead the country’s courtship of global association meetings

Jakarta is the only Indonesian city to have a convention bureau and local tourism players are pushing for a national-level lead

There is a sense of urgency among Indonesia’s business events players regarding the government’s plan to establish the Indonesia Convention and Exhibition Bureau (INCEB), as the directorate of business events was abolished with the formation of a new government cabinet and tourism ministry last year.

Jakarta is the only Indonesian city to have a convention bureau and local tourism players are pushing for a national-level lead

Speaking to TTGassociations, Wisnu Budi Sulaeman, board member of Indonesia Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Creative Economy and MICE section and concurrently board member of the Indonesia Congress and Convention Association (INCCA), said: “It is crucial that we have a convention bureau which will market the destination and foster destination development.

“We also need the convention bureau to act as a dialogue partner with other convention bureaus, particularly those in the ASEAN region, in developing competency standards. Previously this role was undertaken by the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy.”
Wisnu explained that the plan is for INCEB to report directly to the country’s president or vice president for sharper cross-sector coordination.

“We also expect some sort of decree that will guarantee that all programmes and commitments will not change when there is a government change,” he added.
A proposal for the convention bureau will be presented to president Joko Widodo for his approval before the end of 2015.

Also pushing for the formation of INCEB is Christina Rudatin, lecturer at MICE Study Programme, Jakarta State Polytechnics, who has been actively involved in the creation of the ministry’s MICE Destination Development Strategy. She said the bureau is needed to support bids for international association meetings to be hosted in the country.

Rudatin shared that the former tourism authority and various associations had discussed ways to develop Indonesia’s association meetings business, but all that came to a halt with the change in the tourism ministry.

The first seed of the idea to set up a national convention bureau was planted a few years ago, and one that was nurtured by the now-defunct Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy. A number of workshops and focus group discussions were conducted to study its feasibility.

Presently in Indonesia, the only convention bureau exists in capital city Jakarta and its activities are dependent on the ruling city government policies.

Bali, a hugely popular destination for corporate, association and government-level meetings and events, has been working on establishing its own convention bureau in the last couple of years. While this effort is appreciated by local stakeholders, industry veteran Ida Ngurah Wijaya, chairman of Bali Regional Tourism Board (BTB), opined that it is more important to form a national bureau quickly.

“MICE is much bigger (in scale of operations) than tourism. It involves safety and security, customs and excise. The big conferences are usually for government and associations, and are often held in the capital. Bali cannot reach (these events) on its own,” Ida said.
Ida, on behalf of BTB, had sent a letter of appeal to the president and received a response indicating that a national bureau will soon be set up.

Preparation for the proposal due to the president is underway and trade players have been coming forth with suggestions on how the bureau could function, obtain funding, etc.
Azwir Malaon, deputy assistant for Natural and Man-made Tourism, said: “We are now collecting input from different (trade) associations and will formulate…an organisation that works.”

Meanwhile, efforts to promote Indonesia’s business events sector will continue. I Gde Pitana, deputy minister for international marketing at the Ministry of Tourism, remarked: “We are fully aware of the importance of business events. The minister (of tourism, Arief Yahya) has instructed us to boost this sector.”

Under the current Ministry of Tourism, deputy assistants who handle the different geographic markets are responsible for both leisure and MICE arrivals.

However, Wisnu opined that a lot more must be done to elevate Indonesia’s status as a business events destination, and one of the areas needing improvement was the collection of related data.

“We are very weak when it comes to data (and have none) to quantify this business,” he said, adding that the future bureau must take the lead in data collection and analysis.
He also pointed out the need for competency standards for venues and services in the industry.

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