Indonesia urged to 'stop discrimination in tourism'

Badung, Bali (The Jakarta Post/ANN) - Indonesia's former Culture and Tourism Minister I Gde Ardika is urging the prestigious state-run Tourism Institute (STP) Nusa Dua to enroll physically disabled individuals as the first step in developing a discrimination-free industry.

Ardika, who currently works for the World Tourism Organization (WTO), made the call during the first reunion of the STP's alumni on Saturday. He said a global code of ethics for tourism that demanded the end of discrimination was declared in 1999.

"Tourism is for all and, being a basic human right, it gives a chance for all kinds of people, including people with disabilities. This policy has to be applied in tourism schools too," said Ardika, who was the co-founder and first director of STP Nusa Dua.

Ardika said that the school should not only pay attention to how smart or "normal" an applicant was, but also take into consideration the applicant's talents and attitude.

"If the applicant is a person with a physical disability, do not dismiss him right away. You should check his talents and guide him to the field that suits his talents best. Let us focus on quality and not on quantity," he said.

Ardika also urged the island's hotels and tourism facilities to improve their services for guests with physical disabilities. "Front-office staff must be trained and educated to be sensitive to the special needs of these guests. Hotels can also recruit people with disabilities to fill several positions."

STP Nusa Dua director Nyoman Madiun said the school would soon implement measures to uphold the global code of ethics. "We will adapt to this new policy. Enrollments would no longer focus on physical requirements and fitness. We will also equip the school with access facilities for people with disabilities."

Madiun said the school accepted about 660 new students a year.

Blind message therapist Nyoman Aryana is optimistic that people with disabilities could perform well in tourism. He said that back in the 1990s, many hotels in Sanur opened their doors for workers like him.

"I must say the quality of my work was excellent, since I have never received complaints from the guests," he said.

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