Thursday, December 2, 2010

Tourism in Jakarta

Tourism is one of the major economy source of Indonesia after possibility of facing a declining role of oil as part of their economy source. As such, Jakarta is one of the designated tourist destinations in Indonesia. Jakarta has definitely evolved itself from a small port city to a modernized city with tall skyscrapers while constantly keeping up to date with the latest technology and facilities in the city.

Globalisation has definitely affected Jakarta in certain ways. Based on Harvey (2000) one of the shifts of globalisation technological changes and innovation has enabled people from around the world to be connected. With the invention and improvement of aeroplanes and other modes of transportation, people are able to travel to their destination in a shorter period of time as compared to centuries ago. This eventually has brought about the increasing trend of people traveling around the world for different purposes.

So, here comes the question. How has tourism actually impacted Jakarta in terms of its cultural impacts and other significance impacts to the country such as economy? Before looking through into the question, lets find out more about how Jakarta has build itself as a tourism destination.
Here is one of Jakarta's tourism destination commercial!

In recent years, Jakarta has expanded its facilities for visitors with luxury hotels, fine restaurants and many other attractive attractions in order to meet the different needs of its visitors. With the increasing number of visitors coming in to Jakarta, the city has to constantly be updated with the increasing trends among the visitors. Based on the website, Indonesia-holidays some of the must see attractions while in Jakarta are:
  1. National Museum
  2. Sunda Kelapa
  3. Maritime Museum
  4. National Monument
  5. Ragunan Zoo
  6. Chinatown in Jakarta
  7. Puppet museum and
  8. Taman Mini Indonesia Indah

Lets take a closer look at one of its tourist attractions, Taman Mini Indonesia Indah or Beautiful Indonesia in Miniature Park. It is an extensive culture-based park, the prime showcase of Indonesia’s rich cultural and natural diversity located in East Jakarta.

Also known as the Taman Mini, it has been known to be Indonesia's Disney world, as a result of disneyfication to the attraction. Disneyfication is a term which describes the transformation of something, usually society at large, to resemble The Waltz Disney's Theme Parks. It can be used more broadly to describe the processes of stripping a real place or event of its original character and repackaging it in a sanitized format.

Different from Disney Theme Park which has a theme and elements of fantasy and magical, Taman Mini is a culturally-based theme park. That, to me is one of the unique selling point of the place. Disney theme parks are very much well known for its excellent service and often enough are able to create repetitive visitors in spite of its high price. What makes Disney theme park so succesful is the integrated concept of having recreational elements, accomodation and many more to make it a one stop place for the visitors to visit.

Just like it, Taman Mini has disneyfied itself to be of an integrated attraction just like the Disney Theme Parks for its visitors.

The core of the Park are 26 exclusive replicas of traditional houses of chieftains found throughout the Indonesian archipelago from Aceh to Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Java and Papua. These are pavilions displaying the history, arts and crafts and traditions of each of the provinces. Built for education and family fun, Taman Mini has large areas for family recreation, a number of flora and fauna parks, various museums, performing theatres, an Imax theatre and accommodation facilities. (Information adopted from Visit Indonesia)

Watch the video below to have a look at what Taman Mini Indonesia Indah is all about!

In addition, Disney theme parks has introduced the use of mascots to promote and create a unique experience to the place by making the Disney characters come to life. As such, Taman Mini also has their own mascot. Nitra, their mascot, is a wayang hero taken from the Ramayana epic namely Anjani Putra - shortened to NITRA - another name of Hanoman. The NITRA form has become the icon of TMII as a means of identification with an informative meaning easy to be remembered and close to the heart. Just like when we think of Disney theme parks, we think of Mickey Mouse. Mascots often create an iconic statement of the place.

In my opinion, disneyfication has brought about the increasing trend of attractions tranforming itself to be a part of an integrated business concept and at the same time being able to provide excellent services. From the success of Disney theme parks, one could benefit from the repetitive visitors as it generates more tourism and visitors receipt. As a result, many tourism organisations are introducing standard operating procedures to the different elements that make up the integrated attraction such as the accomodation, food and beverage outlets and the service sectors.

Nevertheless, a part from the economy benefits it will receive, the Park has a chief mission the preservation and development of the various Indonesian cultures as a media to strengthen the nation’s unity and integrity and to instill these values especially in the young generation. For visitors who have little time to explore the Indonesian islands, Taman Mini is a good introduction to what this country has to offer in diversity and culture. During weekends and holidays Taman Mini is an ideal theme park for families to become more acquainted with other regional cultures.

However, what about the issue of the authenticity of the place? The culture and attractions potrayed in the theme park may not be the original form of its culture. As mentioned earlier, disneyfication will result in references to anything negative are removed, and the facts being watered-down with the intent of making the subject more pleasant and easily grasped. In the case of places, this typically means replacing what has grown organically over time with an idealized and tourist-friendly veneer reminiscent of the attractions at Disney theme parks that portrays fantasy and a non-realistic world.

Certainly, a certain form of commodifying may have taken a place in order to meet the needs of the different types of visitors to the attraction especially for the foreigners.

In my next post, lets take a closer look at how tourism could be a culprit in commodifying the culture and traditions of Jakarta.

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