11 September 2019 | "Jerry" and The Minister
Did you ever see the movie Jerry Maguire? Young Jerry works for a company managing sports stars. Or rather, in his opinion, the business simply milks the sports stars, more interested in profits than their clients' wellbeing.
Well, overnight during the annual company conference Jerry (aka Tom Cruise) has an epiphany. The company's mission should be to put the sports stars, its customers, first. Not dollars.
Highly motivated, wee Jerry writes a paper advocating this major strategic change, has it printed in the wee small hours and drops it in the mailbox of all his colleagues. Exhausted but with his conscience clear, convinced he did the right thing, Jerry retires to bed.
Next morning, he awakes with a start, horrified at the thought of what's he's just done. Career suicide. He tries but fails to recover the documents but, too late, they're in circulation, the damage is done.
Still with me?
Well, back in Selayar, the tourism ministry asked that the rally participants, for we are now well and truly, "rally people", to pass on some feedback as to how we found our visit to the island. Any suggestions as to what the Ministry might do to help build their tourist industry would be welcome.
Well, woken by the call to prayer, yours truly had his Jerry Maguire moment and over an hour or so, put my thoughts on paper and at the Gala Dinner handed this over to the Minister of Tourism. He was delighted to receive it and we had a few selfies together. (Me and the Minister. You know!!).
Fast forward forty eight hours and we arrive in Lubuan Bajo, the first "westernised" tourist hub we've seen in Indonesia. The first clue things were different was from maybe fifty miles out. Having spent the hours of darkness, reefed down and sailing along cautiously, the almost complete absence of FADS, the bamboo fish attracting devices the local fishermen put out to ensnare passing yachts and from which they fish at night seemed a bit odd. No FADS. No fishermen. Hmmmm.
However, once ashore in LBJ, all was clear. No smiles, no waves, no "selfie, selfie mister". No nuthin'. Completely ignored as we were just another pair of white folks amongst the dozens of rag- tag back packers from Australia, France and UK all on a dreadlock holiday apparently driving a successful and thriving tourist business.
Every second shop was flogging tour trips, all the fishing boats having been converted into authentic Indonesian "gulets" or whatever they call them. Every other shop was designed to extract cash from the tourists, bars, trinkets, dive shops. There was even a Starbucks.
For the last six weeks we've been treated like royalty and rocks stars. Here we're Prince Andrew and the Bee Gees.
If the Minister of Tourism in Selayar is reading this, be careful what you wish for! Suggest you bin my paper. Stay as you are. We really liked it.
But how selfish is that? Make $100 taking some tourists to an island beach or spend the night in a wildly tossing FAD or "putt-putt" to catch a few fish and then get screwed at the market but still able to allow a few passing yachties the opportunity to see genuine local culture?
I know what I'd do.
Better re-write that paper.