Tuesday, April 16, 2024 | 15:13 WIB

Tourism, the creative economy, and the 2024 presidential election

Jakarta, IO – As a tourism activist for over 20 years, I am well aware that tourism has not yet become a “populist issue” in Indonesian democratic politics. Tourism nevertheless lags behind political, economic, and defense concerns, such as spending on primary weapons systems (alutsista). 

Some may call me “naïve” for bringing up tourism issues, which are still less highlighted than others. I fully understand these statements and have no objections to them. However, since democratic politics established a one-person, one-vote system, tourist issues have been regarded as a “sleeping giant”. I’ll explain why this term is appropriate for tourism. 

Tourism as a sleeping giant 

According to data collected by the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Industry (Kemenparekraf) and Statistics Indonesia (BPS), at least 33 million Indonesians are engaged in tourism and the creative industry (parekraf). 

Tourism and the creative economy are inseparable, as tourism always involves creative activities. Tourism is a place where human imagination finds its home. 

Given the significant number of Parekraf participants and the one person, one vote principle, tourism has the potential to contribute 33 million voices. The figure is quite substantial. Fantastic. 

The amount exceeds the number of Indonesian Migrant Workers (PMI), which has been a frequently-discussed national issue. According to data from the Indonesian Migrant Workers Protection Agency (BP2MI), as of November 2023, the membership of PMI stands at 19,501, with a total of 257,476 people listed from January to November 2023. 

The Parekraf sector also holds tremendous economic potential, as detailed in the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s (UNWTO) 2022 report, where tourism-engaged countries’ revenue might reach tens to hundreds of billions of dollars. 

The United States leads, with US$132 billion, followed by Spain ($73 billion), the United Kingdom ($68 billion), the United Arab Emirates ($61 billion), France ($60 billion), Italy ($44 billion), Turkey ($41 billion) and Germany ($32 billion). 

Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy (Kemenparekraf) data reveals that in September 2023, tourism contributed 3.83 percent of Indonesia’s GDP, which was higher than 2022’s 3.6 percent. As of September 2023, Indonesia’s tourist foreign currency value had reached US$ 10.46 billion. 

The figures of Parekraf participants and its economic potential provide a reasonable basis for tourism to be considered a sleeping giant. We must awaken this giant, to become an outstanding voice and supercharge the economic engine. 

To ace the one-round election 

Let me point out that the tourism industry’s potential 33 million votes can help sway a successful 2024 presidential election. It might even secure a one-round victory for candidates who are committed to addressing tourism challenges. 

We can also state that Parekraf participants constitute a significant swing voter group, comprising mostly young voters: Millennials and Generation Z. Based on 2024 Permanent Voter List (DPT) statistics, it shows that young voters make up 52 percent of the electorate. 

Millennials and Gen Z, with a number reaching hundreds of millions of voters, attract political parties and political figures to compete and raise related issues considered vital to them, to gain support. We have all seen this. 

There I see a huge opportunity: tourism issues. Numerous parties only focus on young voters and forget the large group of Parekraf participants. 

Read: GovTech Anas

According to my view, no political parties or figures have focused on optimally exploiting the tourism issue. Therefore, anyone who can perceive the opportunity and is adept at addressing the challenges of tourism has the chance to garner 33 million votes. 

Multiple survey releases show that the highest electability ranges around 40 percent. Tourism businesses, holding 33 percent of swing voters, will have a potential key to a victorious 2024 presidential election through only one round. 

Finally, I would like to invite everyone to work together to become aware of the sleeping giant. We must awaken this electoral tourism giant.