Fri, 12 Sep 2003

PHRI seeks city's help to lower expenses

Bambang Nurbiantoro, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI) has urged the city administration and the City Council to revoke several bylaws and gubernatorial decrees on taxes, workers' minimum wages and other charges, which they claim have caused their operational costs to soar.

"The city administration must revise or even revoke those bylaws and gubernatorial decrees," PHRI executive chairman Ad Harisantoso was quoted by Antara as saying on the sidelines of the congress of the Jakarta PHRI on Thursday.

Among the bylaws and decrees are those on taxes, workers' minimum wages and fuel and electricity charges.

Harisantoso said the regulations had discouraged the development of tourism companies, which are facing serious problems due to concerns by a number of countries about security in Indonesia.

Hotels and restaurants are the businesses most affected by the security concerns in the capital following a series of bombings in the country in the past three years, the latest being the JW Marriott Hotel bombing on Aug. 5 of this year. Many hotels have since suffered a decline in the number of guests, with occupancy rates hovering below 50 percent.

Harisantoso said a review of the regulations would help the hotel and tourism sector recover its pre-1997 condition before the economic crisis hit the country.

"It doesn't mean that we are asking for special treatment over other sectors, we only hope for a stimulus to help us survive," he added.

PHRI chairwoman Yanti Soekamdani Hardjoprakoso said that ethnic conflict in various parts of the country and last year's outbreak of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in the region had also negatively affected the industry.

"All these incidents have caused hotel occupancy rates to nose-dive," she said, adding that the occupancy rate of five-star hotels now stood at 40 percent, four-star hotels at 48 percent and three-star hotels at 50 percent.

Data at the city administration shows that in 2002, the city's income from hotel and restaurant taxes reached about Rp 550 billion (US$64.7 million). It was the second largest income after vehicle tax of about Rp 2.5 trillion. The city administration set this year's target at Rp 750 billion.

The hotel, restaurant and tourist industries employ some 37 million people from across the city.