Tourism minister Sandiaga Uno says his idea of a halal-friendly Bali is ‘over’

Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Sandiaga Uno at Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport on Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020. Photo: Twitter/@sandiuno
Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Sandiaga Uno at Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport on Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020. Photo: Twitter/@sandiuno

Newly-appointed Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Sandiaga Uno has sparked controversy in Bali in the past when he suggested tapping into the island’s potential for “halal tourism,” but the politician has set the record straight by saying that he has canned the idea.

During the second day of his two-day visit to Bali, Sandiaga met with a number of tourism entrepreneurs and Governor I Wayan Koster to discuss the future of tourism on the island when the topic of halal tourism inevitably came up.

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Sandiaga said that the discussion on the matter has concluded, and that Bali will continue to promote tourism based on its local culture and traditions.

“It’s already clear, the discussion [on halal tourism] is over. Bali tourism is based on culture with local wisdom, sustainability, quality, and health,” Sandiaga said in Denpasar yesterday.

As more than half of the regional economy in Bali is dependent on tourism, the COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted the province, which has been the hardest hit economy in Indonesia. Sandiaga said that his ministry will take the necessary steps to accelerate the recovery of tourism and creative economy sectors in Bali, namely expanding tourism grant funds.

“The tourism grant will be expanded, we will fight for the soft loans of IDR9.9 trillion (US$700 million) requested by the governor,” Sandiaga said.

In 2019, Sandiaga was the running mate to Prabowo Subianto in the Presidential Election in a ticket that was closely associated with conservative Islam. During his campaign, Sandiaga proposed the idea for predominantly Hindu Bali to tap into the potential of halal tourism so it becomes more friendly towards Muslim tourists. The idea was rejected outright publicly by many, including Bali Vice Governor Cok Ace.

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