Friday, April 1, 2016

Tourism Ministry proposes single body for Kota Tua (Old Batavia)

The Tourism Ministry is proposing to form a single authority to manage some parts of Jakarta’s historic Kota Tua area whose buildings are currently undergoing renovations.

Tourism Minister Arief Yahya said during a discussion recently that he believed that a top-to-bottom approach would help to revitalize Kota Tua more quickly.

“We need to ask the President to issue a presidential regulation to form a single body,” he said.

Kota Tua, or the Old Batavia complex, is located in two subdistricts — Pinangsia and Roa Malaka. This means that officials from both subdistricts are responsible for the area while the management of the place is handled by a technical unit from the Jakarta Tourism Agency.

The unit, however, does not manage the buildings, which mostly belong to state-owned enterprises (BUMN).

Meanwhile, the revitalization of the buildings is now conducted by the Jakarta Old Town Revitalization Corp (JOTRC), which has acquired 18 buildings to be renovated.

Arief said that the formation of a single authority would ease the process of revitalization in the area.

“It will be easier as the order is straight from the President,” he said.

Arief said that most of the buildings were owned by BUMN, so it would be easy to ask them to cooperate if there was a presidential regulation.

He said that approaching each company that had ownership of the buildings one by one would take a long time.

Arief gave the example of Toba Lake in North Sumatra that was previously managed by seven different officials but now was under a single authority. He said that Borobudur temple was also managed by a single entity and this helped with maintenance and business.

Arief said that he would also propose to allocate around Rp 10 trillion (US$760 million) to fund revitalization up until 2019.

“I think it will be easy to get Rp 10 trillion. We usually allocate Rp 5 trillion to start developing a tourist site,” he said.

He said, however, that Kota Tua should try to attract more visitors, adding that this year’s new target would be 200,000 foreign tourists and five million domestic tourists.

Arief said that he agreed with the plan to turn Kota Tua into a financial center, just as it was in an earlier era. “Finance is the most sustainable business for old cities,” he said.

He also proposed to brand Kota Tua as the “Manhattan of Asia”. Such a brand, however, is opposed by many parties, including historians and experts, because of the fact that Kota Tua is actually older than Manhattan.

Responding to the proposals, JOTRC CEO Lin Che Wei said that he would support these initiatives from the government.

“We support all good intentions for the sake of this country. We are one of the stakeholders and we are trying to make the revitalization program successful,” he said.

Lin said, however, that all concerned parties should pay attention to two things. “We want a balance between the commercial aspect and the cultural aspect. If you want to turn Kota Tua into a tourist site, please do not evict anyone,” he said, adding that the area belonged to the local community.

The city administration previously evicted street vendors in Fatahillah square and relocated them to location further away.

Frances B. Affandy, a consultant who is preparing Kota Tua to become a UNESCO World Heritage site, said that she agreed with the idea of a single body.

She said, however, that the government should not make Kota Tua into just a tourist site.

“Kota Tua should be Kota Tua, not Disneyland.” (Jakarta Post)

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