Fri, 25 Feb 2000

High crime rate blamed for decrease in tourist arrivals

JAKARTA (JP): The high crime rate is the main reason for the decrease in the number of tourist arrivals in the capital, an official said on Wednesday.

"The City Tourism Agency recorded 1,057,104 tourists visiting Jakarta in 1998, but this number dropped to 981,183 last year," the head of the agency, Witjaksono Muwardi, said during a discussion on tourism at Wisma Nugra Santana on Jl. Sudirman in Central Jakarta.

He blamed the fall in tourist arrivals also on the high incidence of poverty in the capital. "Poverty is the root of the city's crime problem."

A 1998 data at the city administration revealed there were 17.6 million impoverished people residing in urban centers.

Witjaksono said the fall in the number of tourists visiting the city was not the sole responsibility of the City Tourism Agency.

"Other parties should participate in handling the poverty problem," he said.

The city police recorded 17,817 criminal cases in 1999, which is a slight drop from 1998's figure of 18,659.

Witjaksono said the Office of the State Minister of Tourism and Arts had proposed a program which would enhance the welfare of the poor, while also reducing the crime rate.

"The program is called People-Care Tourism. Once the welfare of the people increases, tourism will simultaneously increase. And at the same time, it will reduce the crime rate," he said.

Witjaksono said any efforts to attract foreign tourists to Jakarta would be futile unless the city's crime rate was first reduced.

"Along with representatives of the city police, we visited Taiwan in August last year to promote Jakarta as a secure city," he said by way of an example of the city administration's international campaign to sell Jakarta as a tourist destination.

"It might have attracted the people of Taiwan to come here, but unfortunately a month later a Taiwan national had her hand cut off during a robbery," he said, adding that such criminal incidents thwarted the city administration's attempt to attract tourists.

Witjaksono also urged the media not to dramatize criminal cases. "It will deter tourists from visiting the city. The media should publish crime stories proportionally." (asa)