Many of Indonesia’s 237 million people are in the mood for holidaying in the post-fasting Idul Fitri period, and they have flocked to domestic tourist attractions.
The government combined the national holiday with leave days, giving almost everyone nine days off for Idul Fitri 2011. Work starts again on Monday.
The long holiday helped boost transportation and tourism, with about 15.5 million travelers going home to celebrate Idul Fitri with their relatives. And once the prayers were over, they spent the rest of the holiday at the beach and other attractions.
In Jakarta, PT Pembangunan Jaya Ancol official Metty Yan Harahap estimated that at least 1.5 million visitors would flood Ancol Dreamland during the week, at least 10 percent more than during last year` week-long Lebaran holiday.
In addition, on the second day of Idul Fitri, Thursday, at least 45,000 people visited the Taman Mini Indonesia theme park in East Jakarta, said the park’s spokesman, Mas`ud Toyib said. He expected visits would hit a peak Sunday.
In nearby Tangerang, thousands of holiday makers visited the popular Tanjung Pasir beach on Saturday, said beach security coordinator Asmar Yopi. He said the place would stay packed through the weekend as people get as much fun as possible out of the holiday before heading back to work.
Rosidah, a resident of nearby Balaraja, Tangerang, said every year she and her friends visited Tanjung Pasir beach because it’s close to home and easier to reach than the popular seaside Anyer resort in Banten.
"If we go to Anyer, we are also afraid of getting stuck in a traffic jam," she said.
Anyer itself was crowded for its busiest time of the year.
"The peak of tourist arrivals at Anyer is expected this Saturday and Sunday," Secretary of the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association’s Serang Chapter, Sukirman, said Friday.
Cilegon Police Chief Umar Surya Fana said he would deploy extra personnel in Anyer to handle the crush of arrivals over the weekend.
"This weekend, it`s not only the peak of tourist arrivals in Anyer Beach, but also the reverse flow of Idul Fitri travelers from Bakauheni to Merak Seaport," he said.
In West Java, thousands of tourists visiting Mount Papandayan in Garut, West Java ignored a government warning to stay away from the volcano, which erupted recently and has been on alert status since Aug. 13, according to local government spokesperson Dikdik Hendraja.
Also in West Java, at least 25,000 visitors were expected by resorts in the Rancabali region of Bandung District.
"Around 17,000 people already have arrived from various cities in Indonesia. It`s likely that the number of tourist arrivals this year will increase from the previous year," Asep Ester, the chairman of the Bandung Tourism Association, said last week.
Its also been a good time for malls and department stores. In Bekasi, visitors to malls in Cikarang are up about 17 percent after Idul Fitri.
"Visitors come for discounted products, especially garments and Lebaran necessities," Ridwan Arifin, a spokesman for Sentra Grosir Cikarang in Bekasi said on Friday.
The stories are repeated nationwide, from the Punti Kayu forest resort in Palembang to East Java’s Wonorejo Dam and reservoir, where numbers were up sharply.
In Malam, East Java, five to six thousand people a day visited Jatim Park 2 during the holiday, an increase of 40 percent from non-peak times, said an official. Jatim Park 1 saw about 4,000 people a day.
For the wealthy, Australia was a popular destination, with the Australian Embassy getting over 16,000 tourist visa applications in the seven weeks leading up to the holiday.
"Lebaran is a special time for all Indonesians and we`re proud to be able to meet the growing demand for Indonesians visiting Australia," Australian Ambassador Greg Moriarty said in a press release Friday.