Status of tourism sector in Yogyakarta after the Java Earthquake

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It has been two weeks now since Saturday, May 27 when a 6.2 scale earthquake struck Bantul, a region of Yogyakarta province some 25 kms south of the city of Yogyakarta (both city and province have the same name).

Casualties to date have been reported at over 6000 killed, 20,000 injured, and over 200,000 made homeless.

The earthquake destroyed several towns and many villages throughout the province of Yogyakarta. Although Bantul regency, a region filled with small craft villages, suffered the most, the earthquake also affected other parts of the province and the city of Yogyakarta in varying degrees.

Following the earthquake, there was an immediate relief response by Indonesian authorities, organizations, and individuals to cope with the disaster as well as a strong international outpouring of aid by many members of the international community.

Full details can be found on the web-site of the Java Crisis Tourism Media Centre ( www.javacrisismediacenter.com ), but a summary of the current status as of this press release is:

I. General situation

Immediate relief needs are being seen to, with tents, blankets, basic medical supplies, food, and water being widely distributed to the victims of the earthquake.

The local and regional hospitals, supplemented by international medical teams and supplies, are by and large now coping with the sudden influx of large numbers of injured people. In the first days, there was no room and many patients had to be seen outside and many also chose to stay outside for fear of aftershocks. But as of today, virtually all patients who still need treatment are indoors.

Aid has arrived from the four corners of the globe for which the people of Yogyakarta and Indonesia are immensely grateful. Large Hercules transports still arrive daily at Yogyakarta airport bringing in relief teams and supplies from more than 32 countries.

The overall relief effort is being coordinated by provincial and national authorities and a state of emergency has been declared allowing the army to send in troops and equipment to aid the relief effort. Already, as the first stages pass, some relief teams from overseas are planning to depart this week.

Light tremors and aftershocks are still occurring from time to time in the province making people nervous but causing no additional damage to date.

The nearby volcano, Mt. Merapi (situated some 20 kms north of the city of Yogyakarta) is still in the danger stage with periodic eruptions of clouds of ash and gas running up to 4 kms down its slopes. More than 7000 people from communities lying within the danger zone have been evacuated when the volcano first moved into the danger stage on May 15.

The city of Yogyakarta has returned to normal and visitors arriving who were not aware that an earthquake had struck would think the situation is as usual whether driving around the city, going to malls and restaurants, or seeing the bustling street activity it is hard to believe that a disaster had so recently occurred some 30 minutes drive to the south.

II. Tourism Sector

Tourism is a key economic sector for Yogyakarta, providing employment and income directly and indirectly to thousands of people in the province. The Bantul region, for instance, where the earthquake did the most damage and where loss of life has been greatest, is home to hundreds of craft villages that make souvenirs, arts and crafts for the tourism sector throughout Indonesia.

In response to the crisis to the tourism sector caused by the devastating earthquake, public and private tourism stakeholders in Yogyakarta and Central Java provinces joined together under the patronage of the Minister of Culture and Tourism of Indonesia, Mr. Jero Wacik to found the Java Crisis Tourism Media Centre under the banner Java Tourism Care on Sunday, May 28 one day after the earthquake occurred.

The mission of this voluntary organization is to assist in the relief and recovery of the people, companies, and organizations working in the tourism sector in Yogyakarta and Central Java provinces and to keep the world informed as to the progress being made to return Yogyakarta to its normal status as an important cultural tourism destination, the heartland of Javanese culture.

The Centers immediate work in the first few days following the earthquake was to assist in the rescue efforts by distributing blankets, tents, food packages, sanitary supplies, and other much-needed materials. The Center also set up five mobile medical vans to travel to the worst-hit outlying efforts, each van equipped with a doctor, nurse, and basic medical equipment.

However, as the situation slowly returns to normal, and as rescue efforts turn to long-term recovery, more and more of the Centers efforts are focusing on damage assessment, coordinating physical rehabilitation and repair efforts between government and the private sector, and planning programs to restore Yogyakartas image as a top cultural tourism destination.

Full details can be found on the web-site of the Java Crisis Tourism Media Centre (www.javacrisismediacenter.com), including details of the relief efforts of the Centre, but a summary of the status of the tourism sector as of the date of this press release (12 June 2006) is:

Estimated total loss: The estimated total loss to date including physical damage plus loss of tourism income is estimated to be over US$1 billion.

Airport: Yogyakarta Adisucipto airport runway has already been repaired and scheduled commercial flights are functioning normally. The damage to the domestic terminal is under repair but the international terminal is now handling both domestic and international arrivals.

n Hotels: The damage to the 34 star-rated hotels in Yogyakarta range from severe to none. The Centers web-site contains full details of each hotels status, number of rooms available, and repairs needed (as appropriate). However, a summary of total rooms normally available, rooms currently saleable, and percentage of total rooms currently saleable can be found in the table below.

In terms of current occupancy rates, all the star-rated hotels that had little or no damage are almost all fully occupied.

Star Rating Number of rooms normally available  Number of rooms saleable as of this date Percentage of rooms saleable as of this date (9 June 2006)
3 – 5 star hotels  2682 1446 53.9%
1 – 2 star hotels   652   529 81.1%

Tourism Heritage Objects: Yogyakartas tourism is largely based on cultural tourism, focusing on the magnificent architectural heritage as well as the rich living Javanese culture. Therefore, the status of the main tourism heritage objects is of key importance in assessing Yogyakartas current tourism status.

Full details can be found on the Centers web-site, but a summary is:

Main Heritage Site
Comments on Current Status (9 June 2006)

Borobudur Temple

  • UNESCO World Heritage Site , one hours drive from Yogyakarta -
  • No damage
  • Functioning normally

Prambanan Temple

  • UNESCO World Heritage Site , just outside Yogyakarta near airport
  • Some damage to some buildings
  • Limited areas open to visitors

Kraton (Sultans Royal Palace)

  • Trajumas Museum inside Kraton severe damage, closed
  • Other parts some cracks in buildings, statues
  • Limited areas open to visitors

Taman Sari (Water Castle)
Limited to severe damage to parts of this heritage complex located next to the Kraton
Limited areas open to visitors

Imogiri Royal Cemetery
Severe damage to grave-stones of generations of Sultans and their families
Closed to visitors

Kotagede Silver Village
Limited to severe damage to some heritage buildings and 45% of homes/ workshops of silver villages in areas
Closed to visitors

Handicraft villages: The main handicraft villages were all in the worst hit area of the earthquake zone. These villages export their arts and crafts throughout Indonesia as well as overseas, and are an attraction for both domestic and overseas visitors coming to Yogyakarta.

Kasongan (pottery), Manding (leatherwork), and Pundong (ceramics, pottery) villages all suffered severe damage to homes, workshops, and infrastructure, and had significant loss of life. All are struggling to rebuild their shattered homes. Economic production is currently minimal with only a few galleries or workshops open. These villages are a top priority for government programs to help them get back on their feet as soon as possible.

Shopping Malls:
In the past few years, Yogyakarta has become an important regional centre for shopping, with two brand new malls opening in 2006 alone. Full details can be found on the web-site, but a summary of the status of the main malls is:

Shopping Mall
Comments on Current Status (12 June 2006)

Galleria Mall

  • Well established, up-market mall
  • Few cracks in walls
  • Operating normally

Malioboro Mall

  • Popular mall in heart of tourism zone
  • Some damage to stores, physical infrastructure
  • Expected full operational re-opening: 2 weeks / end June

Plaza Ambarrukmo

  • New, up-scale mall (opened 2006)
  • Some damage to stores, physical infrastructure
  • Expected full operational re-opening: 2 weeks / end June

Saphir Mall

  • New, popular mall (opened 2006)
  • Some damage to stores, physical infrastructure
  • Expected full operational re-opening: 2 weeks/ end June

The members of Java Crisis Tourism Media Center, who come from many different communities, private sector organizations, NGOs, and government departments, are meeting regularly to review the current situation, respond in a practical way to changing needs, and plan future recovery programs to restore tourism in Yogyakarta to its normal status.
In terms of overall policies and programs leading to recovery, Mr. Sapta Nirwandar, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, has been assigned by the Minister of Culture and Tourism, Mr. Jero Wacik, to be his point man to work with the Center and is an active member of the Executive Board. He has noted that tourism is a multi-sectoral enterprise and it will need the combined efforts and coordination of many government ministries working closely with the provincial authorities, local communities, NGOs, and all elements of the private tourism sector to carry out this vital mission.
In terms of bookings, many hotels and travel agents are reporting the welcome news that most of their clients have postponed their planned trips to Yogyakarta rather than cancel them, and they are expected to return during the high season of July and August.

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