Jakarta hotels put on brave front amid post-election unrest

Pictured on May 22, protests escalate in Indonesia’s capital over presidential election results

After riots erupted in Central Jakarta on May 21 and 22 in protest of president Joko Widodo’s re-election, tourism stakeholders are keeping their chins up and stepping up on safety and security until order is restored in the city.

The protests broke out in Jalan Thamrin, near the office of the Election Supervisory Body, before spreading to the neighbouring Tanah Abang, Petamburan, Wahid Hasyim and Sabang.

Pictured on May 22, protests escalate in Indonesia’s capital over presidential election results

At press time, Canada, the US, the UK and Australia have issued travel advisories to their citizens in light of the violent protests in Jakarta that left six dead.

However, hotels in the Ring 1 area that TTG Asia spoke to are expecting to operate as normal, with the majority claiming that impact on business has been minimal.

Khika Meutia Mahardhika, director of marketing and communications at Hotel Indonesia Kempinski Jakarta, said the property has received many questions regarding the situation, but no cancellations.

She added that the hotel has heightened security and precautionary measures, with a crisis management committee activated as part of protocol.

Likewise, Roman Soleh, assistant marketing communication manager of Holiday Inn Express Wahid Hasyim, said the hotel imposed a lock-down for all guests and staff during protests and riots, given how it is located just steps away from a site of protest.

Roman added: “A few days before the protest, we informed guests (including incoming ones) that the rally was going to take place. We also issued safety precautions. So far, they are fine and have not cancelled.”

With the police raising the alert level for public order and safety until May 25, Millennium Hotel Sirih Jakarta has lost some business.

Elsa Amalo, marketing communication manager Millennium Hotel Sirih Jakarta, located in the Tanah Abang area, said: “We received 10 room and three event cancellations on a single day. Mostly, it was because guests were not sure which routes were open and if it was safe to get to the hotel…”

Although the riots are contained within an area in Central Jakarta, Krishnadi, chairman of Association of Indonesian Hotels and Restaurants Jakarta chapter, acknowledged that the unrest could impact city-wide hotel occupancy.

He stressed that the extent of tourism impact falls on law enforcement securing Jakarta and arresting perpetrators of the unrest.

Krishnadi believes that as soon as order is restored, tourism will be quick to recover.

“Nowadays people realise (riots) could happen anywhere. Moreover, most the visitors to Jakarta are here to do business. They will need to return to the city as soon as the situation is back to normal,” he opined.

Meanwhile in Bali, Indonesia’s most popular tourist destination, Tjokorda Oka Artha Ardana Sukawati, deputy governor Bali, commented that the riots have had no impact on tourism. “Bali is enjoying an increase in the number of tourists. When compared to the same month in 2018, the number of tourist arrivals increased by three per cent.”

While tourism to Bali does not appear to be threatened, I Ketut Ardana, chairman of ASITA Bali Chapter admitted that he has received some questions from overseas business partners concerned about whether the unrest was likely to spread to Bali.

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