Jakarta’s business events scene unscathed by recent rallies

Clashes in Jakarta

The recent demonstrations opposing the passage of controversial bills in Jakarta have caused a dip in short-term occupancies and cancellations of some business events in hotels, although it was generally business as usual for the exhibitions segment.

Hotels TTGmice spoke with reported a drop in occupancy of between 10 to 20 per cent, and some events did not materialise due to access issues caused by roadblocks the authorities set up.

Business seems as usual for the MICE sector despite clashes between students and police

Occupancy at Fairmont Jakarta – which is only 2.4km away from the House of Representatives – was intact, despite the thousands of protestors near the House on September 30, said the hotel’s director of marketing communications Felicia Setiawan.

However, she shared that 10 per cent of the business meetings were lost due to protests, which ended with clashes between demonstrators and security forces, leaving 210 injured.

She said: “The police blocked streets leading to the hotel (starting in the late afternoon). Therefore, most of the business events that took place in the morning ran as usual.”

The Sultan Hotel & Residence Jakarta, which is located close to the Parliament building, received more acute impacts with 80 per cent of events at the property cancelled on September 30, according to Indira Puliraja, marketing communications manager. Room cancellations were at five per cent, mostly from international travellers, she added.

Similarly, Guido Andiano, general manager of Hotel Santika Premiere Slipi, said occupancy at his hotel has dropped below 50 per cent since rallies first broke out on September 24. On September 30 alone, room cancellations hovered at around 20 per cent.

“(On the other hand), 10 to 15 rooms were opened for walk-in guests and executives around the hotel who were unable to go home due to the blocked streets,” he said. And while business events owners did not cancel their events, Guido said no participants could reach the venue due to roadblocks.

While a loss in occupancy was more keenly felt for hotels located near the Parliament building, according to Krishnadi, chairman of Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association Jakarta chapter, said that hotels across the capital also suffered a decline of 20 per cent in occupancy.

Some fallouts were also observed on the exhibitions segment.

While Jakarta Convention Centre (JCC) did not receive any cancellations of exhibitions at its venue, visitor numbers hit below target, said Hosea Andreas Runkat, director of convention services. This decline was largely caused by accessibility, as JCC is situated less than two kilometres from the House of Representatives, and many streets around the centre were blocked.

Likewise, PEO Dyandra Promosindo also saw impacts of the road closures on its Indonesia International Property Expo, which took place at JCC across several days.

“We decided not to close the exhibition (last Monday) but many exhibitors left early in the afternoon so some of the booths were empty,” revealed Mirna Gozal, head of investor relations & corporate communications at Dyandra Media International.

To enable visitors to still attend the exhibition, Mirna said Dyandra and JCC worked together to provide a shuttle bus to accommodate visitors coming through Gelora Bung Karno gates.

Andreas, who is also the chairperson of the Indonesian Exhibition Companies Association (IECA), said that like JCC, Jakarta International Expo (JIExpo) also did not see business events cancellations across Jakarta this week.

According to PACTO Convex, the 74th Indonesia National Electricity Day – Conference and Exhibition, which will take place on October 9-11 at the JCC, is still scheduled.

Overall, stakeholders believe normalcy will soon return to Jakarta.

“As of today, no countries have issued a travel warning, which means that nothing is worrying. The government also did not declare emergency in Jakarta. The fact that people express their political opinions in rallies is something normal,” said Andreas.

He remains optimistic that the political unrest was short-term as it related to change of power that regularly took place every five years.

Some business events organisers, however, are concerned that the recent events would sully the image of the city should they persist.

Arif Hidayat, managing director of Media Exponent Visi said: “We didn’t have an event in Jakarta during the period, so there was no direct impact on our business… But we have received queries from clients and some participants about next year’s event.”

Similarly, Jeffrey Eugene, managing director Debindo Mega Promo, received indirect impacts, as the PEO is to hold a Trade Expo Indonesia on October 16-20 at the Indonesia Convention and Exhibition (ICE) in BSD South Tangerang.

“Even though ICE is quite far from JCC, the news has concerned buyers, exhibitors, and visitors. Issues of security, political stability greatly affect an international exhibition such as this.

“However, we still have time to convince buyers to come, but that also depends on the situation. If the demonstrations continue, it may affect the expo, as well as our target buyers,” he said. – Additional reporting by Tiara Maharani

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