Interview: Sri Sultan Hamengku Buwono X,

What is Yogyakarta’s economic contribution to Indonesia’s tourism industry as a whole?

SRI SULTAN HAMENGKU BUWONO X: Tourism is very important for the economic development of Yogyakarta and is one of the three pillars we are targeting for economic development, along with education and culture. Statistics from the Yogyakarta Tourism Board indicate that approximately 1.6m tourists visited in 2011, which is a 12.7% increase from arrivals in 2010. The number of domestic visitors totalled 1.4m in 2011 or around 88% of all arrivals. Before the May 2006 Java earthquake, international arrivals were over 400,000 per year, but have now declined by nearly 50%. Therefore, we decided to establish Yogyakarta as a city to cater to the growing meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE) industry for both domestic and international conferences, leading to over 8000 MICE events in 2011.

How important is the tourism industry to Yogyakarta’s overall economy and to what extent is this a stable and reliable source of income and employment?

HAMENGKU BUWONO X: Yogyakarta has shown encouraging economic development in the last couple of years, especially from the tourism industry. Tourism contributions to the gross regional domestic product (GRDP) amounted to Rp4.7trn ($470m) or 20.8% in 2011, mainly from hotels, restaurants and trade. These sectors have the largest contribution to Yogyakarta’s GRDP, and it is projected that these three sectors will increase their contribution to 21% in 2012. In the context of job creation, the tourism industry accounted for 445,443 jobs in 2011, making it the second-largest source of employment after the agriculture industry.

Beyond its cultural and historical offerings, what opportunities for diversification does Yogyakarta offer the tourism industry?

HAMENGKU BUWONO X: Cultural and historical offerings are indeed the main touristic attractions of Yogyakarta, with temples like the Buddhist Borobudur and the Hindus Prambanan, the Kraton and the historical importance of the city in Indonesian independence. The peoples’ traditional livelihood is a touristic attraction in its own right; they live peacefully and have a kind nature. Furthermore, Yogyakarta has been gifted with beautiful natural scenery like the green paddies along the countryside, with the backdrop of Mount Merapi and the Menoreh plateau.

During its most recent eruption in 2010, the slopes of Mount Merapi were covered in lava, which has created unique scenery that has become a popular tourist attraction. The mountainous area of southern Yogyakarta has also become a favourite spot for tourists looking to rock climb, go caving and engage in aero sports.

Over the medium to long term, where does investment within Yogyakarta need to be focused to support the development of the tourism industry?

HAMENGKU BUWONO X: Maintaining an environment conducive to tourism is a must, and in doing so Yogyakarta continually tries to improve its facilities. In this regard, we are developing infrastructure projects, namely the new international airport located in Kulon Progo and the revitalisation of the Tugu railway station. Currently Adisutjipto Airport is also not fully functioning as an international airport and only has one international flight, to Kuala Lumpur. These mega-projects are listed in the national government’s master development plan, so we can guarantee that they are prioritised as a strategic interest. The completion of these projects will allow us to accommodate more tourists.

Equally important is that these works will promote more economic activity in Yogyakarta overall. We have envisioned the development of a marine industry, fisheries, marine tourism and other associated industries on Yogyakarta’s southern coast. As of today, there are also plans to exploit iron sand reserves and develop steel industries in Kulon Progo and Bantul regencies. We invite investors to come and do business in Yogyakarta, not only in tourism but in other industries as well.