Many years ago I undertook a very serious study for Jakarta City Government : to find out what visitors to the city, and the organisations which welcome them: hotels, restaurants, airlines, travel agents, etc. thought were the main strengths and weakness of the city. We polled 2,000 hotel guests in 4 and 5 star hotels, spoke to local and overseas travel agents, and a raft of tourism related experts.

Bundaran Hotel Indonesia, Wecome Monument, Central Jakarta, Indonesia.

The objective was to establish a new “brand” for Jakarta based on facts, not just the usual whim of the person in charge. “Facts” are identified when hundreds of people agree on something, rather than “opinions” of individuals. Perhaps an unusual occurrence in Indonesia but a welcome change.

The result? The research clearly identified six areas where the city was “as good as or better then other southeast Asian capitals” and six areas we were worse. The strengths were: dining, shopping, spas, golf, marine tourism (thousand islands) and nightlife.

The weakness were: traffic, pollution, infrastructure, security, the airport, public services.

It doesn’t take much to see that the strengths were all in the hands of the private sector, the weakness all public sectors. Now 14 years later after that survey was done how do you think those lists have changed?

My personal opinion? I don’t think they have changed at all, except that some private sector area for example, dining and shopping, have got better. And possibly the closest 1,000 islands have suffered from city based pollution, but other than that the private sector has done well.

Now the public sectors? Possibly not as well traffic is at an all – time low (and will not be fixed by the inadequate construction underway which in itself has caused completely unnecessary disruption) the new airport honestly doesn’t work well, pollution especially solid waste is threatening the city’s health, and while security is not a  current problem, public services are still far from perfect. And to use the measure I noted earlier “as good as or better than other southeast Asia capitals”, without putting too fine a point on it, none of them come close.

So while “Enjoy Jakarta” is still the city’s brand (but there is a new logo— not the above anymore!)and the message is still the same: enjoy the good bits and ignore the bad, the fact is that the bad are now encroaching on and affect the good. We really need the city government to put its best foot forward and address all these points once and for all, before enjoying Jakarta becomes a vague historical myth.

Alistair Speirs

Alistair Speirs

Alistair has been in the publishing, advertising and PR business for 25 years. He started NOW! Magazines as the region’s preferred community magazine.