JEMBER Regent, Ir. H. Hendy Siswanto ST, IPU, admitted that it was not an easy matter for Jember Regency to develop and compete in the tourism and creative economy sectors. Because Jember is in the middle of the circle of tourism ‘rulers’ namely Banyuwangi Regency and Malang Raya.

“Well, apart from that you have to be smart in reading the situation, management and an accurate strategy are needed in order to be able to compete with other districts that surround Jember. What’s more, Jember has homework in the form of heavy infrastructure. In fact, infrastructure is the main mode of travel for tourists to travel to this area,” he said while hosting 25 media brought by the Jakarta’s Media Association (HAM) at the Wahyawibawagraha Hall, Tuesday evening (11/22)

It is a fact, he continued, that to visit Jember, tourists must first transit in the city of Surabaya, both by plane and by train. After that, tourists must continue the journey for about 3-4 hours. The road is not as smooth as other toll roads.

“Jember in building tourism uses the philosophy of eating chicken porridge. If you understand eating chicken porridge, you know the method and strategy. So that eating chicken porridge is still delicious and not contaminated with the hot taste, it is advisable to eat it from the side. Because it’s not hot anymore. So it’s still delicious until the last bite,” he remarked.

He explained, Jember is located in the middle between Lumajang, Probolinggo, Bondowoso, Situbondo and Banyuwangi. From each suburb of Jember, I will take only 5% of the population to come to Jember. Because 90% of these areas pass through Jember.

The Jember’s Regent, Hendy added, the population of Jember is 2.6 million, if added 5% of each of the population of the surrounding districts, then Jember has 5 million residents. And this is a large market share to manage and the potential for purchasing power is large.

Still using the philosophy of eating chicken porridge, Hendy explained, if he immediately ‘sold’ building a tourist attraction it would be a high risk. It must be admitted that the COVID-19 pandemic has reduced people to travel, besides that there will be a distance to build it.

“For this reason, during the COVID-19 pandemic, our infrastructure was boosted. Because this is the main artery and capital for tourists to come comfortably to Jember. Especially from the suburbs bordering Jember,” he explained.

Spreading the Net Through the Event of Inviting Tourists
Jember Fashion Carnaval (JFC) is a fashion event that symbolizes the creativity of young people in Jember Regency which makes this JFC carnival worldwide. In Indonesia alone, JFC has entered the Top 10 of the Ministry of Tourism’s 100 Calendar of Events (CoE) three times in a row.

After 20 months of serving as Jember’s Regent, I started to improve infrastructure starting at 1,200 Km of roads, 30 thousand units of lighting, because I realize that without improving this infrastructure, don’t expect tourists to choose Jember tourist destinations as their holiday visits.

“With the comfort and ease of access, slowly and subtly Jember has begun to ‘spread the net’ by holding events so that large numbers of people come and make transactions in Jember. Understanding the problem of tourist access, Jember plans to revive the airport which has not been functioning for the last 20 years in early 2023. This is not an easy matter for the area which also has 18 holes of this golf course,” he said.

In terms of runway, Jember airport has a runway of 1.6 KM, meaning that it can only be landed by ATR aircraft. In order for Boeing to take off, Jember has to add another runway and is negotiating with PTPN 12 as the land owner.

“On January 1, 2023, coinciding with the anniversary of Jember Regency, we will charter an ATR Caravan 208B aircraft from Prime Air for the next year so that the airport can return to function and at the same time prove that Jember has a load factor so that it can then become a regular flight,” he explained.

Hendy Siswanto emphasized that the flight route to Jember actually had a lot of requests. The flight schedule will be 2 times a day, with the Jember-Surabaya route at 6 am, Surabaya-Jember at 7 am, then in the afternoon Jember-Surabaya at 16.00 and Surabaya-Jember at 17.00.

“This ATR aircraft can be boarded by 9 people, and for a year Jember subsidizes up to 50% with a ticket price of IDR650,000. If this has happened, it’s time for Jember Regency to eat ‘chicken porridge’ straight from the middle. This means that it is time for Jember tourism to take off again,” he concluded. [ HAM]