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Jakarta hopes to attract more Filipino tourists

JAKARTA SKYLINE — the view from the top of the National Monument. — JOHN VICTOR D. ORDOÑEZ

By John Victor D. Ordoñez, Reporter

JAKARTA, Indonesia — The provincial government of Jakarta is hoping to attract more Filipino tourists this year, as the tourism sector rebounds from the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are trying to promote Jakarta to more Filipinos because we see potential in the Philippine market,” Hari Wibowo, who heads the Marketing and Attraction Division of the Tourism and Creative Economy Office of the Jakarta provincial government, told BusinessWorld last week.

“The easing of health restrictions and the reopening of our establishments make us hopeful that the tourism sector in Jakarta will improve this year.”

The Indonesian economy grew 5.31% in 2022, its best annual growth rate since 2013. This was driven by strong household consumption after the government lifted most pandemic restrictions. All remaining pandemic curbs were moved in December as coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infections plunged.

Mr. Wibowo said they plan to invite more travel agencies from the Philippines to tourism events in Jakarta, which is the capital and largest city of Indonesia.

“Jakarta is a destination for both business and leisure and we see it as a prime urban destination,” he said. “This is the place for doing business.”

He described Jakarta as the central business hub in Indonesia, with plans to expand direct flights with various airlines in Southeast Asia.

Jakarta is home to historical landmarks such as Old Batavia, which contains original Dutch buildings dating back to the 17th century, some of which have been converted into museums and cafés.

It also has enormous modern multipurpose structures like the Grand Indonesia and the state-owned department store PT Sarinah, the first high-rise building in the city.

Jakarta also boasts the largest stadium complex with a retractable roof in Asia, with its Jakarta International Stadium having a seating capacity of 82,000 people.

The city is also home to the Kepulauan Seribu, which translates to the Thousand Islands, a chain of about 342 islands and beaches stretching 45 kilometers into the Java Sea.

MORE DIRECT FLIGHTSMr. Wibowo said the government is working on more direct flights between the Philippines and Jakarta to boost tourism.  

Philippine Airlines (PAL) currently operates 10 weekly direct flights between Manila and Jakarta, PAL Spokesperson Cielo C. Villaluna said in a Viber message.

Last year, Jakarta reported 14,890 visitor arrivals from the Philippines, significantly higher than the 2,540 in 2021, according to data from the Jakarta provincial government.

However, this is still a far cry from the 57,593 Filipinos who visited Jakarta in 2018 and 45,521 in 2019.

The Philippines ranked third among foreign visitors to Jakarta before the pandemic in 2019, Mr. Wibowo said.

“Hopefully, with more collaborative projects between our two countries this year, we hope to have more Filipino tourists in Jakarta,” he said.

Indonesia is targeting between 3.5 and 7.4 million foreign tourists this year.

Last year, Indonesia attracted 5.47 million foreign visitors, more than three times the number in the previous year. However, this is still well below the 16.1 million visitors it welcomed in 2019.

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