Traffic jams could make tourism in Yogyakarta less attractive
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Being the country’s second-most popular tourist destination after Bali, Yogyakarta has always been crowded with visitors during holidays, creating many traffic jams, especially those around Ground Zero areas including Malioboro, the kraton, Beringharjo and Vredeburg Fortress.
Even during weekends, tourist buses have to compete with private cars and motorcycles along the city’s main streets as many spaces in these areas have also been used to park cars. Unless something is done about it, many fear that in the long run Yogyakarta will not be that attractive to tourists.
“We indeed have been receiving complaints about the traffic through our tourist information center,” head of the provincial Tourism Agency Tazbir Abdullah told The Jakarta Post.
He said Yogyakarta was a small city, and parking lots could not entirely accommodate tourists’ vehicles, especially during holidays. His agency could not deal with the problem alone, he added. “We need a joint solution with other institutions such as the transportation agency,” Tazbir said.
Quoting long-term planning, Tazbir said that in the future, underground parking areas would be constructed in the Malioboro region to address traffic-related problems. The project would be undertaken in cooperation with the Japanese government, and the feasibility study was currently being conducted.
Researcher Destha Titi Raharjana of the Gadjah Mada University’s Center for Tourism Studies said that the provincial administration needed to seriously deal with traffic jam problems.
“Otherwise, I am afraid in the future tourists will stay away from Malioboro in particular and Yogyakarta in general,” Destha said.
To help reduce traffic jams in downtown areas, Destha suggested that the provincial administrations create new tourist destinations outside the city that would prevent tourists from entering the Ground Zero areas at the same time.
Responding, Tazbir said that information about tourist villages located outside Yogyakarta city had been distributed to tourists.
He agreed that alternative destinations would help reduce traffic jams in downtown areas while at the same time also opening up opportunities to traders outside the Ground Zero areas to earn money from visiting tourists.
Nanang Widyatmoko from Jakarta, who frequently spends holidays in Yogyakarta, said that he found traffic congestion in the ancient city began disturbing his comfort while spending holidays in the city. “So far, however, my friends and I still find it fun to spend holidays in Yogyakarta,” Nanang said.
Jazuli Umar from Jepara, Central Java, concurred, saying that despite the traffic, he still found Yogyakarta an interesting place to visit and enjoy. “The people are friendly and it has many destinations to visit,” he said.