Traffic jams have become a regular weekend sight in Bandung‘s main street as thousands of tourists flock to the West Java capital city for retail therapy and culinary cuisines. Bandung Mayor Dada Rosada says tourism is one of many service industries that contributes to the city’s economic growth.
A thriving tourism trade has encouraged city administration to make Bandung a service-focused city in its 2004-2008 development program.
Bandung has grown into a small metropolitan city with dozens of trade, business and office buildings.
And many state companies including PT Telkom, PT Pos Indonesia and train company PT Kereta Api Indonesia have their secured headquarters in town.
With 2.6 million residents, Bandung has grown steadily, with one square kilometer of land now occupied by more than 11,000 people.
But this of course means it is hard for the city to rely on natural resources for revenue.
Dada said the term “service city” would represent Bandung’s image as a kota dasa muka, or a city with 10 faces.
Just two hours drive from Jakarta, the city has a reputation for being the center of West Java provincial administration as well as the province’s regional trade center. It’s also well-known for education, tourism and as an industrial center, mainly for textiles.
After the 1998 economic crisis however the city took a dive.
“Only in 2000 did Bandung’s economic growth increase to 5.4 percent,” Dada said.
Since then, economic growth has significantly increased to 7.1 percent in 2001 and 7.5 percent 2002.
As an integral part of the service sector and based on the Central Statistics Agency’s 2002 survey results, the tertiary sector has given almost 60 percent in contributions toward gross regional product.
Other service industries that have significantly contributed to gross regional product include large trade and retail services, hotels, land and air transports, communication and financial services and public administration, as well as entertainment and recreational facilities.
“We can’t close our eyes to the fact that high economic growth is mostly thanks to investment from the trade and service sector,” said Dada.
Rapid growth in the service sector has encouraged city legislative council members to support Dada’s decision to make Bandung a service city for its 194th anniversary celebrations in 2004.
Dada said Bandung should be cleaned of trash and corruption, collusion and nepotism.
Already the city is no longer home to gambling, prostitution or drugs — or any other activities that are criminal or against the city’s culture.
Dada said service sectors should contribute to the people’s welfare — but in turn, the people should obey the law and their religion to ensure security, public order are maintained.
Bandung people have also been encouraged by Dada to be friendly and polite to all the city’s visitors.
“We have to make Bandung a service city with dignity,” he said.
“A city that offers services supported by cleanliness, prosperity, compliance and discipline.”
He said some 60 percent of residents depended on trade and or service industries for their livelihood.
In the trade sector, Bandung has more than 2,100 companies and more than 15,000 small-to-medium sized enterprises (SMEs).
The city is also home to around 200 factory outlets, 101 department stores or malls and 47 traditional markets.
Bandung also boasts 25 art galleries, seven exhibition halls, 13 historic buildings, 342 art groups and a number of golf courses. The city’s 227 hotels offer a total of 7,870 rooms and are regularly fully-booked during holidays.
Last year, more than 2 million local and foreign tourists visited the city and 2.2 million visitors are expected this year.
Turnpike operator company PT Jasa Marga said 49 million vehicles entered the city in 2006.
Train company PT Kereta Api Indonesia recorded nine million visitors that year.
But the city still has a few issues to solve — poor garbage management and traffic congestion could dissuade visitors to come to the city.
“We’re working to develop a garbage-powered electricity plant in Gedebage area as solution to trash problem. And we are taking advantage of joint cooperation facilitated by the provincial administration.”
And local police have recorded 72 locations of severe traffic jams with vehicle speeds reaching up to just 10 kilometers per hour.
Traffic hot spots included busy streets Buah Batu, Cihampelas, Kiaracondong, Otto Iskandar Dinata, Pasteur and Setiabudi.
Dada said the city administration had worked with police to initiate more one-way traffic and to add traffic signs along the roads.
With plans underway to polish the city’s image and infrastructure, Bandung is set to reach its target of 11 percent economic growth by 2008.
Yuli Tri Suwarni