Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Jakarta double-decker tourist buses have arrived

The Jakarta Tourism Agency welcomed the arrival of five double-decker tour buses Monday night as the capital, long listed as a sight best left unseen on a visit to Indonesia, began an aggressive push to double the number of foreign tourists visiting the city.
“We thank God that Jakarta will finally have city tour buses,” tourism head Arie Budhiman said as the buses arrived at Tanjung Priok port in North Jakarta. “We hope with the double-decker tour buses that Jakarta will have a different thing to offer than other towns [in Indonesia]. Hopefully Jakarta will become more attractive and draw more visitors.”
Jakarta logged 2.3 million foreign tourists last year, an 8 percent increase over 2012′s figures, but still short of Governor Joko Widodo’s five-million tourist goal. The capital’s administration spent Rp 17 billion ($1.4 million) to purchase the fleet of buses from China. It plans to expand the fleet to include as many as 20 buses in the near future.
“With the support of the governor, who is very tourism conscious, I’m optimistic that the target [of five million visitors] can be reached in three to five years,” Arie said.
The tour buses will offer visitors a free ride through the capital, stopping at sights like the Hotel Indonesia roundabout, Kota Tua, in North Jakarta, and the Blok M shopping hub, in South Jakarta. Each air-conditioned bus can hold 60 passengers and includes television screens that will be used to show a tourism video.
Bus service will begin a trial run on Thursday, with full service going into effect by the end early February at the latest, Arie said.
Jakarta may feature a rich colonial history, but the capital’s congestion and pollution, combined with poor maintenance of its museums and historical sites has done little to help its appeal to foreign tourists. The popular guidebook company “Lonely Planet” describes the capital as “a hard city to love. One of the world’s greatest megalopolises, its grey, relentlessly urban sprawl spreads for tens of kilometers across a flood-prone plain with barely a park to break the concrete monotony.”
The guidebook later lists several sites, including Kota Tua and Taman Ismail Marzuki, as popular locations, calling the city an “essential” stop for travelers looking to experience all Indonesia has to offer. (Jakarta Globe)

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