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Journey home: The Eid exodus tradition and its economic impact

Jakarta Globe - April 13, 2024

Beritasatu Team, Jakarta – As the Eid al-Fitr holiday approaches, Indonesians across the archipelago are gearing up for the annual tradition of 'mudik' – returning to their hometowns.

Ning, 31, is eagerly anticipating this year's Lebaran. She and her family plan to travel to their hometown in Mojokerto, East Java. The longing to reunite with family after nearly a year apart has motivated Ning to undertake the long journey via train to her hometown.

"I've secured train tickets a month ago. Together with my husband and two children, we purchased four tickets. It cost us around Rp 7 million ($434) for a round trip. It's alright, it's only once a year," Ning told Beritasatu.com last Friday.

However, Danang. 37, has encountered a different scenario. He plans to return to Klaten, Central Java, but due to ticket shortages, he and his family will travel by private car.

"I initially planned to travel by train or bus. However, tickets were sold out. So, we'll be using our private car to go back home," he explained.

Despite anticipating potential traffic jams, Danang remains enthusiastic about this year's 'mudik.' Especially since he and his family haven't returned home since 2019.

"It's been 5 years since our last 'mudik,' so it doesn't matter if it's congested. The important thing is to reunite with family in the village and arrive safely," said Danang, who works as a private sector employee.

According to a survey by the Ministry of Transportation (Kemenhub), the 2024 Eid al-Fitr period will witness approximately 193.6 million movements nationwide, indicating that about 71.7 percent of Indonesia's population will partake in the 'mudik' tradition.

Around 52 percent of the 'mudik' travelers cited celebrating Eid al-Fitr in their hometowns as the reason, while 35.2 percent mentioned visiting parents or relatives as their motive. Additionally, 10.6 percent intend to utilize the Eid holiday for leisure travel.

Transport analyst from the Indonesian Transportation Society (MTI), Djoko Setijowarno, views the Lebaran 'mudik' as Indonesia's largest migration phenomenon.

"Hundreds of millions of people, according to the latest survey by the Transportation Ministry, over 70 percent of Indonesia's population participate in 'mudik.' This has become an annual migration phenomenon for the community, as well as a test of the government's infrastructure readiness," Djoko explained.

Infrastructure challenges and government preparations

The word 'mudik,' originating from the Javanese word "mulih dilik," meaning returning briefly, is deeply ingrained in Indonesian culture, particularly during Eid al-Fitr. Djoko emphasized that the challenges of 'mudik' are immense, as the infrastructure, such as toll roads, is primarily designed for normal daily conditions, not for the surge during 'mudik' periods.

Based on the Ministry's survey, the origin of 'mudik' travelers during Eid al-Fitr 2024 is predicted to be predominantly from Java Island (115.26 million travelers or 59.54 percent of total travelers). East Java contributes the highest number of 'mudik' travelers (31.3 million or 16.2 percent), followed by Greater Jakarta (28.43 million or 14.7 percent), and Central Java (26.11 million or 13.5 percent).

For transportation modes, intercity trains are the most utilized (39.32 million travelers), followed by buses (37.51 million), private cars (35.42 million), and motorcycles (31.12 million).

The significant number of land travelers poses a challenge for the government to prepare infrastructure adequately. Currently, there are 2,835 kilometers of operational toll roads, with 1,782 kilometers operating on Java Island and ready to accommodate 'mudik' traffic.

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has long instructed his administration to ensure smooth 'mudik' preparations. During a cabinet meeting on February 22, he emphasized the importance of checking transportation and infrastructure readiness for 'mudik.'

"Ensure the infrastructure and transportation readiness for 'mudik.' Every year, we always prepare for this annual event," said President Jokowi. He has urged people to plan their 'mudik' trips early to avoid congestion during the peak period.

"Mudik this year is substantial. It's a 56 percent increase from last year. Around 190 million travelers are expected this year. Based on the survey. Therefore, I urge and invite the public to 'mudik' early," said President Jokowi on March 28.

Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi stated that the government has made various preparations to ensure a smooth exodus and return flow. They have coordinated with stakeholders such as the police and state-owned enterprises to guarantee this year's exodus runs smoothly.

"We began this cautiously, conducting surveys for 2-3 weeks. Based on this survey, we can map the origins and destinations of travelers. For example, Jakarta is a phenomenon due to movements from the east and west. Meanwhile, Central Java is the highest destination," said Budi.

"After discussions with the President, we agreed to encourage people to start 'mudik' early, with the peak three to four days before Eid. Therefore, we recommend traveling five to 10 days earlier, as traffic flows more smoothly during that time. Additionally, there's a potential toll discount," he continued.

The upcoming Eid al-Fitr 'mudik' period is not just a cultural tradition but also a massive economic booster for Indonesia. As millions prepare to travel across the archipelago, the government's coordination and infrastructure readiness play a vital role in ensuring safe and smooth journeys for everyone involved.

Economic boost expected during Eid al-Fitr holiday

The Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry projects that the economic turnover in the tourism and creative economy sectors during the Eid al-Fitr holiday in 2024 will reach Rp 276.11 trillion.

"This figure represents a significant increase of 15 percent compared to the potential economic turnover during Eid al-Fitr in 2023, which amounted to Rp 240.01 trillion," said Deputy for Strategic Policy at Kemenparekraf, Dessy Ruhati, recently.

Dessy explained that this economic turnover is influenced by the potential movement of people during the Eid holiday. Furthermore, she mentioned that the majority of domestic tourists will head to Java Island, with three main destinations being Central Java, East Java, and West Java.

The survey results from the ministry indicate that the preferred tourist destinations during the Eid al-Fitr season this year include beaches/lakes, culinary centers, mountains/agrotourism, recreational parks/zoos, and shopping centers.

Favorite tourist destinations during the Eid holiday this year include Malioboro and Parangtritis in Yogyakarta, Borobudur (Central Java), Bromo (East Java), Ciwidey, Pangandaran, and Lembang (West Java), as well as Puncak Bogor and Ragunan (Greater Jakarta).On a separate occasion, the Special Staff to the Minister Coordinator for Economic Affairs, Ahmed Zaki Iskandar, mentioned that the money circulation during the Eid al-Fitr 'mudik' in 2024 is expected to reach Rp 384 trillion. This figure is obtained by assuming that 193 million people who will travel for 'mudik' will spend Rp 2 million each.

"The potential of reaching Rp 384 trillion will drive Indonesia's economy during the Eid al-Fitr 'mudik' in 2024," said Zaki on Sunday.

Zaki added that the main factors driving economic movement during the Eid holiday are the availability of public transportation and supporting infrastructure. The availability of buses, trains, and airplanes is crucial in facilitating people's movement.

"This encourages people to travel, not only for 'mudik' but also for vacations and visits to other areas. This will drive the food and beverage, hotel, and tourism sectors," he said.

The money circulation that occurs, according to him, will have a significant impact on the growth of the regional economy, especially for micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs). This is considered a crucial momentum in the recovery of the regional economy post-Covid-19 pandemic.

"The impact is significant, especially in the regions. This is an extremely important holiday. Hopefully, this money circulation will occur not only in Java Island but also throughout the islands in Indonesia," said Zaki.

Source: https://jakartaglobe.id/business/journey-home-the-eid-exodus-tradition-and-its-economic-impac