Jakarta – West Sumatra`s tourism industry which was crippled by a 7.6-magnitude earthquake last week, does not only need to reconstruct its physical infrastructures but also to rehabilitate its image to restore its normal life.
“Image rehabilitation is not less important than physical reconstruction of damaged hotels and restaurants,” Tourism Marketing Director General Sapta Nirwandar said.
For this reason, hotels in West Sumatra, particularly those who suffered from minor damage, are expected to operate immediately. Therefore, in the current emergency response efforts, tourism industry should give priority to saving the lives of hotels` and restaurants` employees and clean them from rubble so that they can operate soon.
“Hotels with minor damage are expected to operate soon and receive guests. This is part of a step to improve the image,” the director general was quoted as saying in Padang by daily Kompas.
He said that image rehabilitation was an important effort to eliminate tourists` fear and to convince them that earthquake was a natural disaster which could happen any time in any place.
In an effort to restore West Sumatra`s tourism image, hotels and restaurants need to operate immediately and the government needs to be encouraged to hold its meeting activities in Padang.
Besides, West Sumatra also need to intensively promote its tourism, including tourist destinations in areas other than in Padang and Pariaman.
On Wednesday last week, a powerful earthquake devastated West Sumtran provincial capital of Padang, and jolted neighboring provinces of Bengkulu, Jambi, Riau and North Sumatra. The tremors were also felt as far Singapore.
The earthquake killed at least 603, based on the latest data released in West Sumatra on Sunday, and left over 300 missing. But unofficial estimate put thousands of victims.
It also destroyed 21,732 units of houses, caused damage to 6,721 homes and minor damage to 9,572 others.
No official data has been made on the material losses suffered by the tourism industry in the province. But Head of West Sumatra`s tourism Service Edi Hasmy said the earthquake has incurred tens of billions of rupiah in losses.
The value of damage does not yet include losses suffered from damaged roads and infrastructures in the tourism locations in Padang City.
“We can only a take stock of damage to star-rated hotels. We have not yet taken into account losses on damaged infrastructures in tourism object locations,” Edi Hasmy said.
Previously, Director for Domestic Tourism Promotion, Fathul Bahri said that West Sumatra`s tourism was paralyzed by the earthquake. “The quake has paralyzed West Sumatra`s tourism because many facilities and road access to the tourism sites were destroyed,” he said.
A number of hotels, restaurants and their supporting facilities were destroyed. According to Edy Hasmy, of the 47 hotels in West Sumatra, 24 hotels were damaged, of which 11 were destroyed and could no longer be used. Among those destroyed are Ambacang, Rocky Plaza, Mariani, Nuasa and Hayam Wuruk hotels.
“Up to now we can only take stocks of damaged star-rated hotels. We have not yet done so on other tourism objects. Not all of our staff members are already able to make inventory of damaged tourism facilities as many of them are still in traumatic conditions,” he said.
In the meantime, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism has established a crisis center in an effort to face the earthquake calamity that destroyed tourism facilities in West Java.
“The crisis center is established to provide services and information for the public in the post-earthquake period in West Sumatra,” the Crisis Center Coordinator for culture and tourism Surya Dharma, said.
He said that the center would provide various information with regard to the quake and tourism, including providing accommodation for tourists which become victims of the earthquake. It also offers cooperation with various travel bureaus and all tourist stakeholders in West Sumatra.
“We have prepared a media center and telecommunications means,” he said. It also observe the post-quake conditions to carry out restoration efforts in the tourism sector.
Meanwhile, tourism stakeholders outside West Sumatra are also involved in assisting the earth quake victims. Tourism businesses and the tourism association boards in Jakarta have been raising funds and collecting emergency supplies for the earthquake victims.
Tourism stakeholders involved in the effort include PHRI (Indonesian Hotels and Restaurants Association), ASITA (Association of Indonesian Tours and Travel), INCCA (Indonesian Association of Congresses and Conventions), and INACA (Indonesian Air Carriers Association).
The tourism association board also opened a West Sumatra quake aid center at practically every major hotel, restaurant, and travel agencies. “We will also open special boxes at the West Sumatra quake exhibition, the Indonesian Tourism and Travel Fair (ITTF), and the Jakarta Convention Center where people can put financial aid,” PHRI chairperson Yanti Sukamdani said.
Marketing Director General of the Culture and Tourism Ministry Sapta Nirwandar said raising funds for earthquake victims has become a priority. “Hopefully, the financial and material assistance from tourism businesses and others would help the civtims,” Nirwandar said.