Jakarta’s tourism, retail sectors hit hard by massive floods

Massive floods that struck Greater Jakarta, and its satellite cities such as Bekasi, Bogor, Depok, and Tangerang (Jabodetabek), on New Year’s Day have affected local tourism and retail businesses.

Triggered by torrential rain on December 31, the floods have claimed 67 lives and forced tens of thousands to flee their homes. The floodwaters vary in height, ranging from 20cm to three metres.

Tourism and retail businesses in Jakarta has suffered as a result of the recent massive floods

The retail industry, which was anticipating brisk business during the holiday season, was hard hit by the floods. Indonesian Retail Merchants Association (APRINDO) estimated that retailers in Greater Jakarta have incurred losses amounting to more than one trillion rupiah (US$71.6 million).

APRINDO’s chairman Roy Mande was quoted by The Jakarta Post as saying that the disaster had forced around 400 retailers, including some 300 in Jakarta, to shutter their shops temporarily. The estimated losses, however, could be bigger because the total amount does not include losses faced by ten shopping malls and several traditional markets in the affected areas. Some shops remain closed at press time.

The Halim Perdanakusuma Airport in East Jakarta was also forced to shut down for a few hours due to the flooding, which made planes unable to take off and land. During the closure, flights were redirected to Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang, Banten.

Hasiyanna Ashadi, managing director of Marintur Indonesia and head of the Association of the Indonesian Tours and Travel Agencies (ASITA) Jakarta chapter, said that the disaster disrupted the pickup process of tourists as the toll road linking Jakarta and Soekarno-Hatta International Airport was inundated by the floodwaters.

“Fortunately, January is a low (tourist) season in Jakarta,” she said.

Hasiyanna added that ASITA members had received enquiries on the situation from their European and Middle Eastern clients who had plans to visit this month. Though none cancelled, some have postponed their trips.

Emphasising that the floods did not hit the whole of Jakarta, Hasiyanna said tourists who were already in the city were able to proceed with tours as normal since the capital’s key destinations, such as the National Monument (Monas) complex and Dufan, were unaffected. However, it took a longer time to reach the sites due to traffic congestion caused by flooded roads.

For tourist sights that were closed, ASITA offered guests alternative destinations.

On the hotels front, the impact on business has had two extremes.

According to Hariyadi Sukamdani, chairman of the Indonesian Hotels and Restaurants Association (PHRI), hotels located in affected areas, such as Kemang in South Jakarta, suffered cancellations due to access issues. A clearer understanding of the business loss is unavailable now, as PHRI members have yet to provide a financial report.

On the other hand, hotels in unaffected zones have become safe havens for residents in the affected areas. In such properties, occupancy rates have risen by 20 to 30 per cent .

Government agencies are now tackling the recurring rainy season issue, with the Ministry of Public Works and Housing taking action to mend damaged dikes, enlarge ditches, clean out clogged drains, and widen the Cilalanang River which causes the flooding of Cipularang toll road.

Basuki Hadi Muljono, minister of Public Works and Public Housing, said two dams in Sukamahi and Cimahi, Bogor, are under construction and are expected to be completed this year.

The are further plans to widen the river banks in Jakarta to reduce flood-prone areas.

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