Jakarta Tourism Board hopes Asian Games will help bring 3 million tourists to capital in 2018

Officials from Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) visit the Istora stadium at the Senayan sport complex as the Indonesian Asian Games Organizing Committee (INASGOC) prepares for the 18th Asian Games in Jakarta on August 6, 2017. Indonesia will host the 18th Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang in 2018 with 39 sports, 53 disciplines and 426 events. / AFP PHOTO / ADEK BERRY

The 2018 Asian Games are coming up fast. The second largest multi-sport event after the Olympics, the massive undertaking will be hosted by Indonesia in both the South Sumatran city of Palembang and the capital city of Jakarta starting on August 18. The government is hoping the games will help bring a record high number of foreign tourists to the capital this year.

“The target is not specific to the Asian Games, but the total target is for 3 million foreign tourists in 2018,” said Hari Wibowo, the head of marketing at the Jakarta Tourism Board as quoted by Detik yesterday.

Jakarta is not exactly known for being a tourist-friendly city (indeed, many would say it’s not even a local-friendly city, at least in terms of getting around the traffic) but 3 million tourists is not an unreasonable target. While we couldn’t find any data yet for 2017, according to Jakarta Central Statistics Agency (BPS) data, the number of foreign tourists that visited Jakarta in 2016 was 2.5 million. Around 320,000 of those were from China, with large numbers of Malaysian and Japanese visitors right behind them.

The real question is whether Jakarta will be ready for both the Asian Games and the huge influx of athletes and spectators the games will bring with them. The government has assured the anxious International Olympic Committee (IOC) that construction on new venues for the event are on track but concerns still remain.

In terms of dealing with the increased number of visitors that will need to get around the capital in a timely fashion during the games, Governor Anies Baswedan promised that at least part of the capital’s planned Light Rail Transit (LRT) system would be ready to go in time, but Transport Minister Budi Karya did not agree with that assessment.

Government officials have also mentioned possibly putting tight restrictions on the number of vehicles entering the city during the duration of the event, though nothing concrete has been decided upon.