DestinationsThe late leader is fondly remembered for spearheading sustainable tourism development in the country.

Indonesia mourns loss of former tourism minister I Gede Ardika

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Speaking at the funeral service of I Gede Ardika, current tourism chief Sandiaga Uno said Indonesia's tourism industry had lost a highly cherished leader.
Speaking at the funeral service of I Gede Ardika, current tourism chief Sandiaga Uno said Indonesia's tourism industry had lost a highly cherished leader. Photo Credit: Indonesian Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy

Former Indonesian tourism and culture minister, I Gede Ardika, passed away on 20 February, four days after his 76th birthday. During his ministerial tenure from 2000-2004 and throughout his career, he made many lasting contributions to the nation’s tourism sector, particularly to sustainable and responsible tourism.

At Ardika’s service in Bandung, West Java on 22 February, the current Indonesian minister of tourism and creative economy, Sandiaga Uno, said Ardika sparked the idea of tourism villages (desa wisata) in Indonesia.

Sandiaga said Ardika presented the village-based tourism concept at the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNTWO) general assembly in Santiago, Chile in 1999, when the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism was ratified. Sandiaga added that tourism villages were the current ministry’s “flagship programme at this point.”

By the end of 2018 there were 1,734 tourism villages across Indonesia, with Java and Bali home to almost half. Sandiaga is targeting a further 244 for development across the archipelago by 2024.

Born in Singaraja, North Bali, Ardika published a book on sustainable tourism in 2008, titled Pariwisata Berkelanjutan: Rintis Jalan Lewat Komunitas (Sustainable Tourism: Pioneering Pathways through Communities). “In this book that became a guide for all of us, he conveyed his ideas about the world of tourism going forward. He discussed how tourism development in Indonesia should be based on principles and ideals as part of national development," noted Sandiaga.

Dedicated to job creation and professional development, Ardika contributed to the Tourism Occupational Skill Standard Development at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum in 2000, as well as ASEAN-level national competency standards in 2012. He was a member of the World Committee on Tourism Ethics representing the Asia Pacific at the UNWTO from 2007 until his final days.

The former minister was also instrumental in gaining the UNESCO world cultural heritage status for the keris, a traditional dagger with great significance for Indonesia as well as many other communities across Southeast Asia.

The late leader was especially known for his championing of sustainable tourism.

“Mr I Gede Ardika will always be remembered. His contribution and dedication will always be imprinted on sustainable tourism. All of us are experiencing deep sorrow. Hopefully we can all continue his knowledge and ideals," read a post by CAVENTER Indonesia on social media, an educational and promotion platform for community development and sustainable tourism.

Fitri Utami Ningrum, the platform’s co-founder and director, said, “I didn’t know him personally, but his work lives on in my heart.”

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