The tragic bomb attacks that took place on 17 July 2009 have undeniably shocked Jakarta and the entire country. However, the latest UNWTO mission, carried out by Xu Jing, Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific from 21-22 July 2009, indicates that the city is recovering rapidly from the sudden shock. Apart from the specific areas where Hotel JW Marriot and Hotel Ritz Carlton are located, life has basically restored to its normality. “Jakarta did stop for a moment on Friday, but not for long. We are not going to allow terrorists to dictate and allow them to make Jakarta their hostage”. says Fauzi Bowo, Governor of DKI Jakarta made the above comment on 21 July at the Jakarta Media Centre.
Latest data, obtained from Indonesia’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism and confirmed by the Indonesia Hotel and Restaurant Association, reveal that there is no obvious tourist exodus from Jakarta nor from Bali as a result of the bomb blast. The Government of Indonesia, right after the incident, took a number of immediate actions in order to minimize the negative impacts of the attacks. A Crisis Centre was immediately established in the Ministry of Culture and Tourism to provide the tourism industry as well as the individual visitors with the comprehensive information and the latest updates of the situation. Jero Wacik, Minister of Culture and Tourism personally switched on the Ministry’s Emergency Response System and the Standard Operations Procedures (SOP), following the UNWTO’s guidelines for crisis in the tourism sector.
There is no room for terrorism to kill tourism. There is no room for terrorists to use tourism to kill innocent visitors, said Dr. Taleb Rifai, Secretary-General a.i. of UNWTO. Despite the temporary setbacks, Indonesia, as a world-famous tourist destination will continue its charm of cultural and natural diversity. In fact, Indonesia performed exceptionally well last year, achieving a 16.8 % increase of international tourist arrivals. From January to May 2009, tourist arrivals to Bali, Indonesia’s prime destination, were up by as high as 9.35 % when most destinations in the region were adversely affected by the financial and economic downturn. Time and again, Indonesia has manifested itself as an exemplary model to use tourism as an effective instrument not only to confront the short term economic difficulties but more importantly as a driving engine for job creation, trade and development.
At the press conference held on 22 July 2009 in Jakarta, Xu Jing, who was also taken to the site for inspection, congratulated the Government of Indonesia and the tourism industry of the country for their professional approach and efficient capacity in handling the crisis. The current difficulties are short in nature. As long as the industry rallies together to overcome the setbacks, the country will continue to build an even stronger tourism sector in the nearest future, as indicated by Taleb Rifai to Minister Wacik over the phone on 17 July, the very day of the attack.