Direct International Flights to Reopen: Yogyakarta, Central Jav

Yogyakarta‘s tourism industry is expected to bounce back this year thanks to the reopening of direct international flights from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, by the end of this month, says a tourism official. Yogyakarta Tourism Office head Tazbir said Yogyakarta would recommence direct international flights as local tour operators were convinced the province was ready to host foreign visitors again.

“Thanks to the reopening of international flights, we can now bank on international tourist arrivals, on top of those from Denpasar and Jakarta. Visitors from Asian and European countries will be able to directly arrive through the Adisucipto Airport in Yogyakarta,” said Tazbir.

Direct international flights to Yogyakarta commenced two years ago, but were suspended after a powerful earthquake devastated the city in 2006 according to Tarko Sudiarno.

The direct flights would be served by Malaysia Airlines and Air Asia, each flying the Kuala Lumpur-Yogyakarta route. Malaysia Airlines is scheduled to serve the route three times a week, while Air Asia will serve four times a week.

Malaysia Airlines will use its 144-seat Boeing 737-400 jetliners and fly from Kuala Lumpur to Yogyakarta on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays, while Air Asia will use its 180-seater Airbus 320 jetliners, and serve the route on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

“We are positive the targeted tourist arrival total of 150,000 will be reached thanks to the direct international flights. In 2007, Yogyakarta recorded only around 100,000 international tourists,” Tazbir said.

He added the direct flights were expected to attract an extra 50 foreign visitors per day, while the remaining visitors would arrive via Jakarta and Denpasar.

“Our cultural tourism attracts many visitors … people also come here for meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE),” said Tazbir.

The extra flights to Yogyakarta, he said, would have a positive impact on tourism and the local economy.

He added the local tourism sector had been looking forward to the direct international flights, because based on a 2007 tourism survey, most foreign visitors to Yogyakarta had arrived aboard aircraft, followed by trains and buses.

There are currently 26 domestic flights serving Yogyakarta daily, carrying up to 4,500 passengers. Yogyakarta has, until now, relied on overseas tourist arrivals through Jakarta and Denpasar.

“On top of promoting MICE tours, we will also boost our promotional campaigns through the internet, as surveys indicate information from the internet ranked second in drawing visitors to Yogyakarta,” said Tazbir.

Most foreign visitors to Yogyakarta, data revealed, came from the Netherlands, Australia, Germany, Great Britain, France, Japan, Belgium, Poland, the U.S. and Switzerland.