Governor I Made Mangku Pastika waded into the sensitive issue of foreign hotel managers this week when he warned there were simply too many of them at the expense of Balinese and other Indonesians.
The subject is delicate for a number of reasons, not least the perceived vast salaries such foreigners running the many star-rated hotels here enjoy, and also the rising feeling in local officialdom that foreigners are taking over the island, in activities ranging from building villas to opening new businesses.
The governor asked if Indonesians were “capable” of running Bali’s top-level hotels, and if not, why, especially as the island has long since turned out competent hospitality employees from its tourism colleges. Put simply: Why is a foreigner more able to run a hotel than an Indonesian?
We might ask that of the Indonesian partners of major hotel chains that establish themselves in Bali, as they are the de facto employers of foreign general managers. Do these businesspeople, many of whom are from Jakarta and others parts of the country, not think their fellow citizens are capable of administering their hotels?
Or is it that the hotels’ guests, chiefly comprising foreigners themselves, expect an outsider at the helm, that he or she would be more understanding of their needs? That may be the case as seen from management level, but for anyone who has stayed at smaller hotels in Bali that are run by Indonesians, it is not true.
Whatever talents are required to smoothly and efficiently run a hotel, we are sure Indonesians have them; it is not a foreign phenomenon. We are equally confident that tourists who come to Bali from every part of the world do so with the intention of mixing with the culture and its people – and that includes managers of the hotels they stay at.
We, like the governor, are not suggesting foreign hotel managers be entirely replaced by Indonesians, but there should be a more equal mix, given that currently 98 percent of such posts are occupied by foreigners. Pastika wants a 50-percent equilibrium.
Let’s get rid of the negative stereotype that see some segments of our society as incapable, and work together for the betterment of all.Filed under: Editorial