KONTAN.CO.ID - YOGYAKARTA. Yogyakarta contains multitudes. The Indonesian city is a tumult of culture shot through with rich veins of history – it’s still ruled by a functional monarchy; it has been home to storied, spectacular Buddhist and Hindu holy sites for well over a millennium; and is internationally renowned for everything from literature to silversmithing.
All the same, the city is now better known for being an education hub. Besides its four state universities, Yogyakarta is home to more than a dozen private institutions and so many niche academies that it has more than 60 institutes of higher learning, according to some estimates.
And it’s a reputation the Indonesian government is trying to change.
The archipelagic nation drew 15.8 million tourists last year, and in a bid to boost those numbers for 2019, the Ministry of Tourism is turning its attention to travellers from China, where a growing middle class is constantly in pursuit of new holiday destinations.
In 2018, Indonesia had 2.7 million visitors from China, and the ministry is hoping for 3.5 million this year – all part of a tourism-boosting initiative launched by the administration of President Joko Widodo to create “10 new Balis”.
“Yogyakarta is one of the 10 branding destinations,” said Dian Kemenpar, the Ministry of Tourism’s deputy director of tourism marketing for China.
“This means the Indonesian government supports Yogyakarta as a tourist destination by promoting it around the world, so international tourists will not only be aware of Bali.”
A key element of the plan is upgrading provincial airports, building amenities and improving access to outlying destinations across the country.
To this end, the city is getting a new airport, which is meant to be fully operational by 2020. As early as next month, 65 flights will have been moved to the Yogyakarta International Airport in Kulon Progo regency, according to the ministry.
Chinese student Dai Wenhui, 25, said her Bahasa Indonesia skills had grown and deepened during her time in Yogyakarta.
She has spent a total of four years studying the language, beginning as an undergraduate at the Guangxi University for Nationalities in Nanning, and is now doing a master’s degree in linguistics at Gadjah Mada University’s Indonesian Language and Culture Learning Service (Inculs).
“When I began my major, I thought Indonesia and China’s cooperation and relationship was getting closer and closer, and for my major I also wanted to have a substantial chance to develop my linguistic abilities in a less frequently studied language,” she said.