Jakarta Looking at Reviving its Tourism Industry

Indonesia, Jakarta, urban tourism, city

Kali Besar area in Jakarta Old Town

The Jakarta administration seeks to rebuild the capital city’s reputation in a bid to revitalize its tourism amid a downturn in foreign tourists numbers.

Jakarta has never been a very popular destination compared to Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore or Hanoi, despite having a high number of interesting sites for travellers. The city is mostly perceived as traffic-clogged, polluted, dirty and unsafe. Projects to renovate Jakarta historical town and museums or the opening of new glitzy shopping malls, as well as luxurious hotel properties, did not deeply change foreign perceptions over the Indonesian capital.

According to Indonesia Office of Statistics (BPS), the number of foreign tourists visiting Jakarta in 2019 has been on a decline since August and that continued until November. Data from December is not yet available but it is unlikely to bring a major reversal in fortune.

Although a downward trend from midyear onward can also be seen in previous years, as visitors usually peaked in July or August, month-to-month comparisons from 2016 to 2019 show that foreign visits from August to November hit an all-time low last year.

The acting head of the Jakarta Tourism and Creative Economy Agency, Cucu Ahmad Kurnia, in an interview with the Jakarta Post, indicated that political instability surrounding the 2019 presidential race and the numerous subsequent protests that swept the city in the second half of the year created the impression that Jakarta was unsafe to visit. The United States even issued several security alerts in response, Cucu noted.

He was hoping that the much-debated Formula E that was to be held in June 2020 would help to restore Jakarta’s image as a safe city.

“We are hoping that holding an international-scale event like this will restore people’s perception that Jakarta is safe,” Cucu told to the newspaper last week.

Jakarta administration would do its best to bring people to actively participate in the event, understanding that there had been a backlash from the public following massive floods that hit Greater Jakarta at the start of the year.

Talking to the head of Gadjah Mada University’s Master’s and doctoral programs in tourism studies, Muhammad Baiquni highlighted further factors to Jakarta’s declining appeal to travellers. He cited economic troubles in many mature outbound markets such as Europe. Jakarta is lacking also consistent advertising and marketing campaigns, particularly towards the younger Asian population.

In attracting young travellers, Baiquni suggested that the city administration should utilize digital promotion better and facilitate more intercultural programs like student and worker exchanges which would push up the diffusion of information over Jakarta through social media.

Cucu said he already had the change in mind as he planned to shift to “a more intense social media usage” for promoting the city, but added that he would first focus on collaborating with stakeholders during his early months in office, as private entities play a big role in tourism.

For Baiquni, Jakarta could succeed if implementing strategies in the short-term, mid-term and long-term: “Long-term is to work toward realizing sustainable tourism, mid-term is creating quality tourism instead of pursuing numbers and short-term is to make space for creative activities in the city.”

A tourism expert and the author of Creative-Based Tourism, Henky Hermantoro, told the Jakarta Post that the city, being the country’s capital, had big opportunities as accessibility had been taken care of — airports and seaports were already in place. A natural next step was then to develop travel packages and in product development to boost the city attractivity.

Jakarta was shortlisted as one of the Top 10 cities at the forefront of tourism growth over the next 10 years based on a 2017 report by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) that covered 65 cities.

In a report of the WTTC and Jones Lang LaSalle published in June 2019, launched to assess cities’ readiness for tourism growth, Jakarta was also named one of the “Emerging Performers” — a label given to cities that have emerging tourism infrastructure, growing momentum and start to feel increasing pressures related to tourism growth.

(Source: The Jakarta Post)