Selling Jakarta: Emphasising the city’s strengths, from shopping to food

With its clogged streets and sprawling developments, Indonesia’s bustling capital, Jakarta, may not be the easiest sell for tourism professionals. With 10.2m inhabitants, it is the largest city in the country and the 13th largest in the world. Indeed, the historic Dutch capital of Batavia is now but one district in a conurbation that is joined by expressways and urban developments to neighbouring Bogor, Depok, Tangerang, Bekasi and Cianjur, creating the second-largest urban sprawl in the world, often referred to as “Jabodetabek”, when letters from its component cities are put together.

ENJOY JAKARTA: Yet Jakarta is also a vibrant city with much to offer the visitor, besides a connecting flight to Bali. It has major meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibition (MICE) facilities, while also holding some of the country’s best hotels. It also has a culture and community that is quite unique to the region, combining the characteristics of all the different Indonesian regions, while adding some important traits of its own.

In recognition of the city’s offerings, tourism authorities launched the “Enjoy Jakarta” campaign in 2002. The campaign continues to this day, with promotional advertisements starring the city shown on television channels around the world in 2012. The promotional campaign emphasises six different areas in which the city excels: Enjoy Shopping; Enjoy Golf; Enjoy Cuisine; Enjoy Spas; Enjoy Nightlife; and Enjoy Island and Marine.

CURRENTLY ON OFFER: The first of these aims to highlight the range of shopping experiences available in the city, from traditional markets such as Tanah Abang, which is one of the region’s largest textile markets, to luxury malls. The second is particularly attractive to golfers in Japan, Hong Kong and China, who face high prices in their home countries and often a limited number of courses. Jakarta and its environs have approximately 25 golf courses, some of which already host large international tournaments.

Cuisine is also a major strong point for the city, as it is home to a wide range of restaurants and tastes, as well as the renowned street vendors. The city holds an annual Fashion and Food Festival, showcasing everything from French wines to steamed rice cakes.

The city also has a range of top-quality spas, nightclubs and entertainment facilities. It is also close to a tourism venue little known outside of the country, the “Thousand Islands” resort. Consisting of a modest 128 islands, this is a designated marine conservation area off the coast of Java. Several excellent dive sites are located there, accessible by ferry from Ancol Marina.

BY THE NUMBERS: According to officials from the Jakarta City Government Tourism and Culture Office, the city saw around 2m visitors in 2011, mostly from within Asia, the main target market. The aim of the campaign was to increase that number to 2.5m by the end of 2015, though officials conceded 2.2m would be a more likely final figure. While initially the focus was on Malaysia, Singapore, Japan and Korea, there has also been a branching out to expand the European market, as well as the Middle East and Australasia.

Part of the issue in boosting numbers is in expanding the number of direct flights, but in addition to that, increasing the number of visitors who stay in the city for touristic reasons, rather than business ones.

In this, there are hopes that Joko Widodo, the new governor of Jakarta, will make a difference. He has already announced the establishment of three public creative zones for the city, located in south, central and north Jakarta, and modelled on Singapore’s famous Orchard Road area. These will feature wide public spaces and encourage street vendors and cultural events.

Governor Widodo has also made reducing congestion a priority, emphasising that this is indeed one of the biggest barriers to tourism development, as well as the city’s wider economic progress. Widodo has moved to further develop the city’s railway network as a tourism facility, using the recently reconstructed historic Tanjung Priok Station as a transit centre.

Clearly, the promotion of Jakarta as a tourism venue has many challenges facing it moving forward, yet within the city sprawl, much is also now beginning to stir.


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The Report: Indonesia 2013

Tourism chapter from The Report: Indonesia 2013

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