The Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy’s Milestones

The history of tourism in Indonesia dates back to Dutch’s colonial era. Around 1910-1920, the Dutch government established Vereeneging Toesristen Verker (VTV) to facilitate people from Europe who wanted to travel to Indonesia.

After Japan’s occupation and Indonesia earned its independence, the Indonesian government began to work hard to boost economy by, among other things, developing tourism industry.

Tourism started to be formally organized in 1959 under the Ministry of Transportation, Post, Telegraph and Telephone which was helmed by Minister Djatikusumo. Djatikusumo served as a minister within President Soekarno’s Working Cabinet until 1963.

For around three decades, the name of the institution tasked to take care of tourism changed several times. The ministers were also changed from Djatikusumo to Hidajat Martaatmadja (1963-1966), Soerjadi Soerjadarma (1966), Hamengkubuwono IX (1966) and S.H. Simatupang (1966).

Throughout the years, Indonesia’s tourism kept growing as shown by the number of foreign tourists which exponentially increased.

In 1969, when there were 86,000 foreign tourists traveled to Indonesia, President Soeharto issued Presidential Instruction No. 9 on Guidance for Supervision of National Tourism Development. Several measures to develop the nation’s tourism were mentioned in the article 4, which are:.

  • To maintain the natural beauty and resources as well as the people’s cultures in Indonesia as tourist attractions;
  • To provide facilities such as transportation, accommodation, entertainment and other tourism essential services, including education for regeneration;
  • To actively carry out effective tourism promotion within the country and abroad;
  • To ensure the smoothness of the tourists’ travel formalities and transportation and to eradicate factors that obstruct them;
  • To aim every transportation policy and activity, particularly air transportation, as the main mean to increase the number of tourists.

The following year, in 1970, the government established Bali Tourist Development Corporation (BDTC). Back then, Bali was Indonesia’s pilot project for tourism development because the island received foreign tourists more than any other parts of Indonesia.

However, the government had also realized that the country’s tourism could not rely only on Bali. Therefore, from 1970 to 1980, Indonesia’s tourism promotion was carried out using jargons like “Indonesia, there is more to it than Bali”, “Indonesia, Bali and Beyond” and “Indonesia, Bali plus Nine.”

History of Ministers

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Department of Tourism, Post and Telecommunication
Department of Tourism, Arts and Culture
State Ministry of Tourism and Arts
State Ministry of Culture and Tourism
Department of Culture and Tourism
Ministry of Culture and Tourism
Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy
Ministry of Tourism
Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy
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Achmad Tahir

Before 1983, tourism was managed by a directorate under ministry or department which took care of transportation affairs. In 1983, the government paid more attention to tourism and created Department of Tourism, Post and Telecommunication and appointed Achmad Tahir as the minister.

One of the government’s notable policies made during Achmad’s leadership to attract foreigners to visit Indonesia was the Presidential Decree No. 15/1983. The decree stipulated free visa for visitors from 26 countries and mentioned 9 airports and 7 seaports as official gates for foreigners to enter Indonesia

Not only to increase the number of foreign travelers, according to Achmad, the policy also served as a strategic measure to attract investors in investing in the development of tourism facilities. In the future, this measure had opened a wider opportunity for crafters and business owners in tourism sector to spread their wings

Soesilo Soedarman

While serving as Minister of Tourism, Post and Telecommunication, Soesilo Soedarman made a breakthrough by launching the Visit Indonesia Year program in 1991. That year, Indonesia began to intensify its promotion program overseas.

Soesilo’s another notable program that is still popular up to this day is the Sapta Pesona. Through a ministerial decree in issued in 1989, he introduced the tourism campaign which is symbolized by a shining sun. The sun has seven components: safe, orderly, clean, cool, beautiful, friendly and memories.

Through this campaign, the government attempted to collaborate with people in developing the nation’s tourism. People who lived in the area of tourist sites were expected to be able to create atmosphere that are safe, orderly, clean, cool because the environment is being taken care of and beautiful. They were also expected to greet the tourists with friendly smile and to help the tourists create great memories while spending times in Indonesia.

When Soesilo was in the office, the ministry began to build the Sapta Pesona building – the ministry’s headquarters. The construction commenced on Nov. 20, 1991

Joop Ave

When Joop Ave served as Minister of Tourism, Post and Telecommunication from 1993-1998, Indonesia’s tourism made some significant developments. According to the National Development Planning Board (Bappenas), within the period 1993/1994 and 1996/1997, the number of foreign tourists visiting Indonesia grew from 3.4 million people to 5.06 million. The amount of foreign exchange also increased from US$ 3.98 billion to US$ 6.34 billion.

In doing his job as a minister, Joop Ave was known as a visioner leader that he was even dubbed as Indonesia’s Father of Tourism. He pushed the construction of hotels and convention centers – from which the Meeting, Incentive, Conference and Exhibition industry began to grow. Since then, Indonesia has been actively and sustainably hosting international events.

Joop Ave’s love for Indonesia’s culture was beyond measure. He believed that Indonesia’s beautiful nature and culture was a door through which we could introduce our nation overseas.

In 1993, Joop Ave alongside Balinese sculpture Nyoman Nuarta initiated the construction of Garuda Wisnu Kencana statue in Jimbaran, Bali. The statue, which was inaugurated in 2018, is now one of Bali’s main tourist destinations.

Abdul Latief

Abdul Latief was inaugurated as Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture by President Soeharto. However, he only maintained his position for three months, from March 16 to May 21, 1998. On May 17, he sent a resignation letter.

That year, Indonesia faced a political storm. Abdul Latief resigned from his position only a few days before President Soeharto was dethroned.

Marzuki Usman

Marzuki Usman was an economist who was appointed by President B. J. Habibie as State Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture in the Reform Development Cabinet. He was inaugurated in May 1998 and stepped down in September 1999.

Back then, Indonesia was still implementing the Visit Indonesia Decade program. According to the Statistics Indonesia (BPS), from 1998 to 1999 Indonesia welcomed respectively 4.6 million and 4.7 million tourists from overseas.

Source : Kemenparekraf
Hidayat Jaelani

Before Hidayat Jaelani, Giri Suseno Hadihardjono served as ad-interim Minister of Tourism and Arts for six months in 1999, from September to October.

Hidayat Jaelani started his career as a minister after being inaugurated by President Abdurrahman Wahid in October. He finished his term in August 2000.

Although its politic was still in turbulence, ndonesia still managed to attract more foreigners to travel to Indonesia. In 2000, the country received around 5 million foreign tourists.

I Gede Ardika

I Gede Ardika began to serve as Minister of Culture and Tourism when Abdurrahman Wahid was still a president. When Abdurrahman Wahid was succeeded by Megawati Soekarnoputri in 2001, I Gede Ardika maintained his position at the ministry

Throughout his period, there were three terrorist attacks occurred in Indonesia, namely the bombings of Bali in 2002, JW Marriot in 2003 and the Australian Embassy in 2004. The events had not only caused casualties, but also badly affected the tourism industry. Many countries issued travel ban policies for their citizens to enter Indonesia following the tragedies.

According to the BPS, in 2002, at least 5 million foreigners visited Indonesia. The number dropped to 4.4 million people in 2003 and bounced back to 5 million people in 2004. During those times, the state income from tourism plummeted to US$ 4 billion.

Jero Wacik
(2004-2009, 2009-2011)

Slowly but surely, Indonesia’s tourism industry tried to rise from the crisis. Jero Wacik served as Minister of Culture and Tourism in both of President Soesilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s terms, in the first and second United Indonesia Cabinet.

During his first months serving as a minister, Jero Wacik had to lead the country’s tourism to weather another crisis caused by terrorist attack, the second Bali Bombings, in 2005. The tourism industry found its way to survive.

In 2008, the ministry relaunched the Visit Indonesia Year program. This was aimed at boosting the number of foreign tourists travelling to the country while at the same time celebrating the commemoration of the 100th National Resurgence Day.

With around Rp 200 billion of budget, Jero claimed that the program was a success. He mentioned the amount of foreign exchange received, US$ 7.5 billion, which was beyond the country’s initial target of US$ 6.7 billion.

Between Jero’s first and second term, Mohammad Nuh served as an ad-interim Tourism Minister for 20 days. In his second term, Jero took part in pushing UNESCO to recognize keris, wayang, batik, angklung, saman dance, subak as cultural heritage from Indonesia.

In 2011, Jero introduced the Wonderful Indonesia program. Back then, Indonesia’s tourism promotion was intensified and broaden to creative industry, even to the global film industry. A movie titled Eat, Pray, Love, starring Julia Robert, had some scenes which were shot in Bali. Adding to that, a France reality show Koh Lanta also did some shootings in Indonesia, to be more precise in Raja Ampat, West Papua.

Source : Kemenparekraf
Mari Elka Pangestu

After finishing her service as Minister of Trade, Mari Elka Pangestu was appointed by President Soesilo Bambang Yudhoyono as Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy, to replace Jero Wacik who was asked to lead the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources. Mari is the first woman minister in the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy

Despite that she led the ministry for only three years, Mari was able to boost the number of foreign tourists and the amount of foreign exchange from tourism. From 2011 to 2014, the number of tourists from overseas visiting Indonesia increased from 7.6 million to 8 million and 8.8 million people. Indonesia also received an increasing amount of foreign exchange within that period, from US$ 8.5 billion, to US$ 9.1 billion and US$ 10 billion.

During this period also, the government provided more supports to industries related to creative economy.

Arief Yahya

Indonesia’s tourism earned various important achievements while Arief Yahya served as Minister of Tourism. The country’s tourism competitiveness index, as announced by the World Economic Forum, continued to rise. Indonesia ranked 50th in this index in 2015. Slowly but surely, it rose to 42nd position in 2017 and 40th in 2019.

Under his leadership, the tourism sector became one of the largest foreign exchange contributors for Indonesia. The number increased from US$ 12.2 billion in 2015, US$ 13.6 in 2016 to US$ 15 billion in 2017.

Some awards were achieved. In 2019, Indonesia won 11 awards from four categories in the ASEAN Tourism Award 2019. Indonesia and Malaysia were named as the 2019 world’s best halal tourism destination according to the Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI).

Throughout 2014-2019, the Ministry of Tourism introduced “10 Bali Baru” or 10 New Balis as its priority program. The 10 new Balis were Lake Toba in North Sumatra, Tanjung Kelayang in Bangka Belitung, Tanjung Lesung in Banten, the Thousand Islands in Jakarta, Borobudur in Central Java, Bromo, Tengger and Semeru in East Java, Wakatobi in Southeast Sulawesi, Mandalika in West Nusa Tenggara, Labuan Bajo in East Nusa Tenggara and Morotai in North Maluku.

Wishnutama Kusubandio

Since he was inaugurated as Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy, Wishnutama revealed to public his main mission in developing tourism in Indonesia. He introduced five super priority tourist destinations, namely Lake Toba in North Sumatra, Mandalika in West Nusa Tenggara, Manado in North Sulawesi, Borobudur in Central Java and Labuan Bajo in East Nusa Tenggara.

During his first year as a minister, Wishnutama faced an unprecedented challenge: the COVID-19 pandemic. The ministry had no choice but to halt a lot of tourism development plans.

However, mid-2020, the ministry launched the Cleanliness, Health, Safety and Environmental Sustainability (CHSE) program to show how the tourism and creative economy industries have been trying to adapt with the pandemic. The CHSE becomes an important factor in a more sustainable tourism and creative economy development.

Hand in hand with this effort, the tourism and creative economy industries are being developed with more quality-oriented approach. In the tourism sector, the ministry has focused on targeting a segment of tourist who spend the most money while traveling in Indonesia. In the creative economy sector, meanwhile, the government is supporting the production of export-quality products.

In doing his job, Wishnutama is accompanied by a deputy minister, Angela Tanoesoedibjo.

Sandiaga Uno

When reshuffling ministers in his cabinet, President Jokowi decided to appoint Sandiaga Uno to replace Wishnutama as Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy. When spoke to the media after being inaugurated on Wednesday, December 23, 2020, Sandiaga said he would continue programs that have been introduced by Wishnutama and that he would focus on reviving tourism and creative economy industries after being hit by crises due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Profiles of Tourism Ministers

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Achmad Tahir
Soesilo Soedarman
Joop Ave
Abdul Latief
Marzuki Usman
Giri Suseno Hadihardjono
Hidayat Jaelani
I Gede Ardika
Jero Wacik
Mohammad Nuh
Sapta Nirwandar
Mari Elka Pangestu
Sapta Nirwandar
Arief Yahya
Wishnutama Kusubandio
Angela Tanoesoedibjo
Sandiaga Uno

“Wonderful Indonesia” logo throughout the years

Kemenparekraf Now

Reviving tourism and creative economy in new normal era

After serving as Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy for around one year, Wishnutama Kusubandio handed over the position to Sandiaga Salahuddin Uno. Sandiaga was appointed by President Joko Widodo to replace Wishnutama during the cabinet reshuffle in the end of 2020.

On December 23, 2020, in Soesilo Soedarman hall in Sapta Pesona building in Jakarta, Wishnutama officially handed over his position to Sandiaga. That day, Sandiaga expressed his commitment to continue programs that have been set out by Wishnutama, particularly the ones that aim to develop Indonesia’s tourism and creative economy to be more sustainable as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic.


According to Sandiaga, President Joko Widodo had asked him to speed up the development of five super priority tourist destinations. The development includes the infrastructure, arts and cultures, as well as the human resources. The five destinations are Labuan Bajo in East Nusa Tenggara, Borobudur in Central Java, Toba Lake in North Sumatra, Mandalika in West Nusa Tenggara and Likupang in North Sulawesi.

Throughout 2020, Wishnutama had established firm foundations to direct tourism development to be more focus on quality instead of quantity. While previously the government focused on increasing the number of tourists, now it pays more attention to providing unique experience to tourists so that they become more comfortable traveling in Indonesia and eventually spend more money. Wishnutama also introduced the Cleanliness, Health, Safety and Environmental Sustainability (CHSE) program to provide better comfort for people within the tourism industry during and after the pandemic.

CHSE, which now is also called by Sandiaga as the K4 (kebersihan, kesehatan, keselamatan dan kelestarian lingkungan), has been implemented nowadays. Through CHSE, the government plans to provide certification program for those who work in this industry. The certification serves as an insurance for tourists and locals that products and services provided have fulfilled standard protocols on cleanliness, health, safety and environmental sustainability.

With the CHSE certification, people will no longer need to worry while traveling as tourists. The CHSE becomes the most important factor in developing quality tourism during the pandemic, even until after the pandemic ends.

The ministry had also launched a standard operating procedure (SOP) which must be implemented by every stakeholder within the tourism and creative economy industries such as hotels, restaurants, and tourist destination operators.

“The year of 2021 is a momentum for us to rise again, but we must be discipline in implementing protocols based on CHSE. We will keep reminding people, joining partnerships with them and giving fund supports to them,” Sandiaga said during 2020 Year End Press Conference.

“The year of 2021 is a momentum for us to rise again, but we must be discipline in implementing protocols based on CHSE. We will keep reminding people, joining partnerships with them and giving fund supports to them,”

during 2020 Year End Press Conference

Sandiaga emphasized on three main strategies to revive the tourism industry as well as creative economy sector, which is through innovation, adaptation, and collaboration. Innovation is needed because, in short period of time, there has to be major changes within the industries. Adaptation is also crucial given that Indonesia is still embracing the COVID-19 pandemic, therefore the tourism and creative economy industries must adapt with the CHSE protocols. Meanwhile, there is also an urge for better collaborations because many people must work together to revive the tourism and creative economy industries.

For the creative economy sector, in the beginning of 2021, the ministry has begun to push the development of creative economy through three approaches namely gercep (move fast), geber (move together) and gaspol (explore all potentials to protect jobs in the sector).

According to Sandiaga, the ministry will provide assistance and capacity building programs for people in the 17 subsectors in creative economy. This must be done to ensure that they can transform and adapt with the digital era. This plan will complete the ministry’s another program introduced during Wishnutama’s term, which is #BeliKreatifLokal or #BuyLocalCreative. The movement aims to support entrepreneurs or small and medium business enterprises in creative industry such as fashion, culinary, and craft to revive their business from the pandemic impact.


In the #BeliKreatifLokal movement, the ministry collaborates with a number of partners such as Blibli, Gojek, Grab, Bukalapak, Tokopedia, Shopee, Blue Bird, and Kontak Hukum. Supports provided through the #BeliKreatifLokal movement includes product delivery using on-demand platform such as Gojek and Grab and product sales through online marketplace such as Tokopedia and Bukalapak. Under this movement, people within the creative industry are also entitled to assistance for co-branding and for legal consultancy to establish their business legality.

The ministry’s programs go hand in hand with the government’s national movement Bangga Buatan Indonesia (BBI) or Proud of Indonesian Products. The BBI is supported by 12 other ministries and institutions under the coordination of the Coordinating Ministry of Maritime and Investment. The 2021 BBI was launched in Bali, in I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport, on January 11, 2021.

“This is a national campaign to support micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to go digital and produce more local innovative products by maximizing local knowledge as their main characteristics,” Sandiaga said.


Tourism and creative industry sectors are believed to be able to contribute more to the national GDP with its huge potential. Not only Indonesia has abundant beautiful natural tourist sites, it is also rich in cultural diversity and local wisdom from traditional culinary, music, to art performances. With more than 199 traditional dances, 724 traditional languages, and 1,340 ethnicities, Indonesia has a lot to offer.

Product diversification and tourism destinations outside Bali which are now being developed will definitely become an effective strategy to attract more tourists to Indonesia. Simultaneously, the creative economy sector surrounding the tourism industry is also expected to develop.