Dr Peter Jacobs is the Head of Task Force, International Monetary Fund/World Bank Annual Meetings’ Bali 2018 Organising Committee. In this interview with Kelechi Anyanwu and Osaze Omoragbon, Jacobs outlines Indonesia’s preparations to host the world. He promotes the upcoming Bali 2018 meetings as a once-in-a-life-time experience, an opportunity for Indonesia to showcase its famed hospitality, technology, culture and tourism. Incidentally, the timing couldn’t be more apt as it would coincide with the 20th anniversary of the unfortunate Asian financial crisis.
How would you describe the level of preparation for the 2018 annual meetings in Bali?
Hosting the annual meetings in Bali come 2018 is very important for Indonesia. This is the largest and unique economic and financial event in the world. The meetings in Bali will host 189 countries and that means the world is coming to Indonesia. So, we are taking the preparations for the meetings seriously. First, we want to make the annual meetings a success and hosting it in Bali, which attracts the most tourists to Indonesia, is apt as Bali has everything the meeting needs to succeed. The meeting venues and hotels are already in place to receive more than 15,000 delegates.
What prompted the government of Indonesia to apply to host the annual meetings in 2018?
As I have mentioned, hosting the meeting is symbolic for us because this is exactly 20 years after the Asian financial crisis. We have become a reformed and resilient economy. For example, our currency has become stable. Our currency is probably the most stable in the world right now because the volatility is so low. Moreover, Indonesia is better placed to withstand any shock or crisis. We are also carrying out progressive policies and these are some of the things to showcase and the time is now for us to do that. We couldn’t wait for another three years. Indonesia’s economic growth is sustainable; and it is over five percent now. So, this is what we want the world to see.
What are the side events/attractions you are planning for the meetings in Bali?
There will be a lot of side events at the meetings; from the usual G20, G24 and other countries’ clubs meetings as well as investors’ forums, to visits to Indonesia’s tourist destinations and cultural heritage. As host country, we are planning events that would showcase our products, tourist destinations and our cultural heritage. Bali is always busy with activities. If you go there now, the hotels and event centres are always booked for local and international events. Tourists who would like to go beyond Bali will find Indonesia interesting because the government is ramping up infrastructure development to support tourism promotion.
How would you describe the challenge of putting together such a huge meeting?
The most challenge to me is to get people to come to Bali. What if we organise the meetings and people don’t show up as expected? That is why we are showcasing our culture, including our attire, culinary, and dance which has aroused interest in so many people who want to come. The second and most important is our people. The world trusts Indonesia to put up a good meeting, so do Indonesians have trust in our government.
What assurance would you give delegates about their security?
The good thing about Bali is that it is an island and it is very easy to secure. The hotels and the venues are all located in one complex, so security is actually not a problem. This is not the first time we hosting big international events. We have organised AIPAC and many others of comparable size. So, the hotels are experienced as well as the police and armed forces. They have experience in securing Bali. They have previously secured visiting Heads of States in Bali. There should be no problem with security in Bali. In fact, there has been a delegation from Bali to discuss security with the IMF/World Bank and they were happy and satisfied with security in our country.
How accessible is Bali given that it is an Island?
There are so many airlines that fly direct to Bali. In fact, most delegates would likely fly direct to Bali than via Jakarta. There are direct international flights to Bali, whether from Singapore, Doha, Japan or Korea. Even some European airlines fly direct to Bali. For those who would fly to Jakarta first, maybe because of fare, of course there are direct flights to Bali from Jakarta. Some delegates may also have other businesses to transact with say, the government and that may take them to Jakarta before heading to Bali. Also, there are other tourist destinations that would be served by local flights such as from Bali to Lombok, Toraja, and Borobudur among others. These are tourism spots surrounding Bali and delegates can just go and have a look.
What is your message to delegates who are coming to Bali?
Indonesia is ready to welcome you to Bali. We guarantee that you will have a memorable experience in Bali. You will see the beauty and hospitality of Indonesia.