Wed, 29 Mar 2000

Old city section to be developed to promote tourism

JAKARTA (JP): The Jakarta Tourism Agency is continuing with its plan to develop a "tourism village" in three locations in North Jakarta, the agency's official said on Tuesday.

The plan, which has been successfully implemented in Bali, is aimed at encouraging more visitors to the area and bringing more income to local people.

Agency head Wicaksono Muwardi said the village would be an integrated tourist destination covering Sunda Kelapa port, the old section of the city and the Pulau Seribu islands in the northern part of the capital.

He emphasized the plan was in harmony with his program to revive cultural tourism in the city by focusing on local maritime and Betawi (indigenous Jakartan) cultures.

"Those three areas are our top priorities to boost tourism in the city, because of their historical, cultural, social and economic potential," he said.

He also said the three areas were already the most well-known by foreign tourists because of their uniqueness, especially the Sunda Kelapa port, which was still functioning and was expected to continue to in the future.

He said Sunda Kelapa port and the old section of the city had real cultural importance, before comparing them with the National Monument (Monas) "which was built on a strategic location in the heart of Jakarta".

He said foreign tourists continued visiting the port even during the tumultuous events of 1998, when student demonstrations in the capital were at their peak. However, he predicted modest visitor numbers while the areas were being spruced up.

"We want to redesign these locations to make them more comfortable and appealing, where visitors can enjoy an interesting cultural tour from one location to another," Wicaksono said.

He expressed hope that investors would become involved so as to speed up the development of the destinations, as the plan would eventually improve the welfare of local residents.

"Local people can run their own businesses such as food stalls and kiosks selling handicrafts to tourists," he noted, adding that spots in the renovated areas would be provided for street vendors, as well as on the sidewalks connecting one location to another.

Agency data reveals that the Sunda Kelapa port ranked eighth on the top tourist destination list last year, with visitor numbers dropping to 11,000 people from 74,000 people in 1998.

The list shows that Ancol Dreamland in North Jakarta and Taman Mini Indonesia Indah ranked first and second with visitor numbers in 1999 standing at 13.7 million and 3.5 million people respectively.

Maritime culture

Wicaksono said he had coordinated with other agencies to beautify the streets of the old section of the city with trees and lamps to revive the maritime culture that flourished during the Dutch colonial era.

Pulau Seribu, home to more than 200 aquatic species, will be developed into an ecotourism resort, which he expected would be visited by holiday makers not only on weekends but also on week days.

Data from his office shows that a total of 175,000 tourists, mainly from Asia, Europe and neighboring Southeast Asian countries, arrived in the capital during the first two months of this year. The figure represents an increase of 14.5 percent compared to last year's two-month total of 152,800.

Income from tourism was recorded at US$717.2 million last year, against $1 billion in 1998. (06)