Issue on Indonesian VFR Tourism ‘Mudik Lebaran’

 

ImageDomestic tourism is an area which has a great role in economic development. It happens not only in developed countries but in developing countries as well. Bigano listed top ten countries that are significant in terms of domestic tourism; they include USA, China, India, Brazil, UK, Indonesia, Poland, Germany, Canada and Japan. Eijgelaar E  argued that domestic tourism have often been overlooked and underestimated. Tourism only discusses around the flow of international tourists only. Well in fact the contribution of domestic tourist is more significant than international tourism. It is also said that domestic tourism is in support to sustainable tourism practices because of the use of less air transport fuel.

In Indonesia, domestic tourism is incredible in numbers, the ministry of tourism and creative economy stated that the number of domestic tourists is increasing from year to year. It is recorded that domestic trip increased from 195.77 million 2001 to 234 million in 2010. While in the third quarter 2011, it is recorded that there are around 172 million people making trip domestically.

In 2010, there were 122 million people doing domestic trip with total 234 trips and had generated around Rp.150 trillion or about US$16 billion twice than the income generated from the international tourist trip. It is also found that the purpose of visit for domestic tourist is mainly Visiting Friends and Relatives which accounts 51% and the second is holiday/recreation which accounts 27% of the population. While the mode widely used for domestic tourism are cars, bus and others. Domestic tourism in Indonesia is huge and its impact to the economy is undoubted. A similar case happens with Indonesia’s neighboring country Malaysia that has a significant number in domestic tourism. Malaysia reported 137 million domestic trip made in 2010 which accounts 115.5 million people and generated RM 34.7 trillion or US$11 billion. Out of the domestic trips made, Visiting Friends and Relatives appear to be main purpose for domestic trip. VFR is however seems to be neglected the tourism industry appears to conclude this segment is not economically significant as stated below:

  1. They do not use commercial accommodation facilities. Presumably, they stay with their friends and relatives and do not spend as much as other visitors for accommodation.
  2. They do not spend as much as other types of visitors. Presumably, since they are staying with their friends and relatives, they also spend less money on food and less time visiting tourist attractions and other tourist facilities.
  3. They are unaffected by tourism promotions. Presumably, they are mainly influenced to visit the destination by their friends and relatives, and are unlikely to be affected by a tourism agency’s promotions. The assumption, therefore, is that it is not worthwhile for an agency to invest in promotions specifically targeting VFR tourists.

 

VFR which is widely known in Indonesia is ‘Mudik’. Mudik is the phenomenon where people go back to their home town during big holiday such as Christmas, Idul Fitr or Lebaran and Chinese New Year. It normally deals with the movement of people in urban areas to village for some period of time and return back. Mudik has become a tradition to Indonesian people and surely other countries too. All classes of people whether rich or poor follow the tradition. As the largest Moslem country with large population, the Mudik phenomenon is highly seen during Lebaran or celebration.

What seems to be the issue here is that Mudik involves with large number of people. And the people will use and crowd the route and transportation, including private and public transport. Whenever there are large numbers of people involved, there is a tendency of accidents to happen. Indeed, Mudik is identical with transportation accidents.

In 2011, Lebaran day fell on 30th August which means that travelling will mostly high around the period. The ministry of Transportation reported that during Mudik Lebaran period (7 days before and 7 days after the day) that the number of users of public transportation increases. It is reported that in 2011, there was an increase 2.58% of passengers using public transportation including air, land and sea. In 2010, there was a total 13.3 million people and in 2011 there was a total of 14.6 million. The number of passengers using the sea transport increased 51.62% from 560,531 last year to 849,901 in 2011. The number of land transport increased 1.58% from 5.164.862 to 5.246.400, and the air transport increased 15.99% from 2.389.659 to 2.771.737 in 2011. Ferry service increased 3.28% from 2.941.779 to 3.038.309 people. Train passengers decreased 22.49% from 2.253.123 2010 to 1.746.488 people. It was also reported that the number of accidents increased 44.61% from 2811 to 4065 and dead victims decreased by 7.5% from 722 to 668. The accidents happened mostly to private cars and motorcycles. They happened mostly because of exhausted condition and indiscipline act of the riders. Condition of the road may have also contributed to the accidents.

In this case, the safety of the domestic tourists is concerned and the public service providers have a great deal in providing safety as tourists certainly would like to have a safe journey during travelling. The issues has brought attention on the transport management of VFR tourists especially during big holiday such as Idul Fitr or Lebaran. There are two questions that come up. First, what is the best mode of transportation? Second, What are the strategies to improve transport management system?

Characteristic of VFR Tourists

The VFR tourists movement from the city to the rural area is huge and the expenditure spent by the VFR tourists also high. In 2010, the expenditure from the VFR ‘Mudik’ activities reached up to Rp.84.9 trillion or around US$ 89 billion. The money is spent for several things including transportation, food and beverage, accommodation, charity, and investment. The 56 % went for components such as accommodation, leisure, and charity. The rest 44% went for travelling expenses, including transportation motorcycle, cars, train, plain or ship. The expenses went to big three components, transportation fare, fuel, and leisure. The expense spent by the VFR tourists was around Rp.2 million.

Mode of Transport

The question that arises on the first place is what kind of transport is the safest. UK authorities carried out research to determine the most dangerous transportation method. The study presents fatality rates and accidents affecting each mode. Statistics show the number of fatalities per billion travels. In the case of bus transportation, the fatalities were 4.3. In the case of train transportation the fatalities were 20, car travel produced 40 fatalities. Water transport resulted in 90 fatalities, air transportation – in 117. The most serious fatality rate was registered in the case of motorcycle transportation. Out of one billion travels, 1640 had a fatal outcome. According to these statistics, the bus is much safer than the airplane. Risky behavior and high speed rank motorcycles as the most dangerous mode of transportation.

Other reports claim that airplane transportation is the safest one. BBC published detailed features about this mode. The main claim is that car accidents occur much more frequently than airplane crashes. Yet, people remain skeptical and many are still afraid to fly. The chance of being in an airplane crash is one in 11 million, while the chance of a car crash is one in 5000. It should be noted that the statistics take into consideration major airlines, which meet all security standards. The fatality rate is higher in the case of smaller airlines that use outdated equipment. Even the US National Safety Council claims that being a pedestrian or a motorcycle rider is more dangerous than traveling by plane. According to its report, even a bus ride happens to be more dangerous than air transportation.

Based on the reports, it is stated that motorcycle is the most dangerous mode of transportation, and that it will be more risky for the tourists who travel using the motorcycle for VFR. In fact the number of motorcycle riders was quite high amounting more than 2 million people.  

Strategies to improve transportation management system

Solving the problem of the transportation management system cannot be relied on the specific authority only such as the law enforcement or the ministry of transportation. It is obvious that the increase number of population will create demand for tourism, infrastructure including access and mode of transport itself. Indeed, at one hand when there is demand there will be an opportunity for business players to sell out their products. However, when the number has turned to too many than it will give more pressure in management. During high season, such as the Lebaran day, extra work is absolutely needed since the number of the people travelling doubles. The current efforts taken to handle the situation are by increasing more officers on the streets to monitor the situation, providing more information, security and health. Providing extra transportation and repairing the infrastructure. These efforts seem not working very well as the number of accidents is increasing as a matter of fact.

Controlling the population can be a good solution. Another possible thing to do is to develop and distribute well fare to remote and rural areas. Central of economic needs to be developed in eastern part of Indonesia as it is seen that most of travel movement goes around Java Island only where the major population lives. And the pattern of VFR goes urban to rural areas. VFR is high because there is high number of immigration to urban areas. Increased accidents are not merely one sector problem and it will increase more unless a strategic national policy that will fix the root of the problem. A comprehensive and strategic national policy should take place.

As most of the accidents are motorcycles and private cars. Providing other alternatives of transportation that can take up more people such as the provision of trains and sea transportation are recommended. Mass transportation is a better means of transportation compared to private cars and motorcycles. It is more environmentally friendly than the other two. It can reduce massive use of energy, decrease air pollution and traffic congestion. Provision of a strong public transportation system is urgent. VFR involves mass tourists therefore it requires mass setting transportation system. Australia Tourism Transport Forum mentioned that

 

  1. Public transport plays an important role in minimizing the cost of congestion and maximizing economic productivity.
  2. Equality of access to employment and services, increased cohesion and decreased isolation are significant social benefits that public transport investment can provide.
  3. By providing an alternative means of travel to private vehicles, public transport has a critical role to play in reducing carbon emissions.
  4.  Recognition of these benefits across various policy areas must form the basis of a coordinated expansion of investment in public transport by all levels of government.

 

 

On a study on traffic accident analysis in Surakarta Java Island conducted by Supriyono, It was found out that one of the triggers traffic accident analysis was an in disciplinary actions of the road users. Road users tend to disobey rules whenever there is an absence of the police. Sutarno Head of the Road Accident Unit (Lakalantas) stated that there were quite a high road accident rates during the holy month of Ramadan. Most of the accidents happen because motorists ignore the traffic rules. Sutanto also agreed that human error is still positioned as the highest factor for traffic accidents, even for non-human factors, ignorance of trip makers to their vehicle maintenance as well as to their traffic safety, knowledge are considered as human errors. Such ignorance can be elaborated from the fact of lesser growth of driving license numbers compared to the explosive growth in vehicle or motorbike units.

 

Looking from the studies, it shows that there is a need to increase people’s awareness on safe driving on the street. Implementation of law and rules for the traffic needs to take place. The law is implemented by Traffic Police and traffic is regulated by them. To that extent it is their responsibility to regulate traffic dynamically and this is dependent on the availability of resources for both human and equipments to get timely information on changes on the flow of traffic at different points and continuously take preventive and corrective action. In addition, education and information dissipation to society on the importance of road safety needs to be considered. How well the road users are informed and educated is dependent on quality of the road safety education imparted to the road users. Schools can put more emphasis in teaching children about road usage and modes of traveling.

VFR may have created an opportunity to tourism business especially to transportation services. However, poor management of the system may result in a great amount of disasters and may lead to negative images on the country. In order to have a better condition, considerations for such issues are needed.

 

Author:

Rina Kurniawati. Lecturer at Sahid College of Tourism Jakarta. Jl.Kemiri Raya No.22 Pondok Cabe. e-mail: kurniawati_rina@yahoo.co.id