Jakarta : The city you love to hate
Jakarta has always been the city that people love to hate, for residents, expatriates and visitors alike.
So when an opinion piece published online named Jakarta as one of the world’s 10 most-hated cities, the Jakarta Tourism Agency appeared unsurprised, saying, with sangfroid, that there was nothing to worry about.
The piece, written by Jordan Rane for CNNGo, said that Jakarta was the seventh most-hated city in the world, just ahead of New Delhi, Cairo and Belize City in the race to the bottom.
Rane said the city was very demanding if seen from a traveler’s perspective, and full of surprises and difficulties.
The article said most tourists preferred to vacation in Bali, Yogyakarta or Sumatra, but not in the “sprawling” capital city, which was, as will come as no surprise to residents, “choked with traffic, pollution and poverty”.
Before saying that Jakarta was not as bad as people thought, Jakarta Tourism Agency head Arie Budhiman took solace from the fact that Jakarta fared better than several major cities in the developed world that were on the list, such as Los Angeles, Paris and Melbourne.
“Paris and Melbourne are some of the world’s most livable cities, and we’re on the same list with them, so that means Jakarta is good, too, right?” Arie told The Jakarta Post via text message on Wednesday.
Despite the woes of development that have plagued the city for decades, Jakarta has been trying to improve itself.
Arie said that the administration had made many efforts in tackling the city’s horrendous traffic congestion and equally horrendous pollution problem. “In addition, we have also done a lot to improve the city’s tourism and to attract tourists to come here, so it not only a destination for business.”
The agency’s latest effort to promote tourism is the Jakarta Great Sale, aimed to entice tourists from Southeast Asia. The effort may have paid off. According to the Central Statistics Agency (BPS), Jakarta saw a total of 167,553 tourist arrivals in April, up 6.02 percent in the same month last year.
Muhammed Ikhwan, a frequent traveler to Jakarta, said that Jakarta was not an ideal holiday. “The city is confusing for tourists. When tourists enter the city, there are no directories available for them that can help them wander around the city,” he said.