Indonesia hopes to develop more tourism sites- Bali News

Indonesia hopes to develop more tourism sites

Indonesia hopes to develop more tourism sites

Countless vacationers , many young Westerners, sat on grey stone steps beneath the world's biggest Buddhist temple, sometimes checking cellphones or whispering to each other as they waited for daylight.Sunrise was not spectacular on this recent summer day.  The 9th century temple is at the middle of Indonesia's Java island, a densely populated area with stunning vistas.  Other highlights include the towering Hindu temple complex of Prambanan, such as Borobudur a UNESCO World Heritage site, and Mount Merapi, the nation's most active volcano, whose lava-covered slopes are available by jeep.While both temples draw many visitors, other foreigners visit the relaxing beaches of Bali, just east of Java and undoubtedly the most popular tourist destination in a country of tens of thousands of islands and nearly 270 million people.  

Over 6 million tourists visited Bali this past year, roughly 40 percent of 15.8 million people to Indonesia overall, according to official statistics.Key to the strategy is to update provincial airports and enhance access to outlying destinations, such as Lake Toba on Sumatra island, over 1,300 km (800 miles) from Jakarta, the capital.  Yogyakarta, the provincial town from where visitors visit Borobudur and Prambanan, is becoming another airport, expected to be fully operational later this year. "For tourism and investment, we want to invite investors in the Middle East as far as possible because... we have many tourism places in Indonesia, not just one or four or two, but most," said Widodo.  He didn't give specifics.Muslim tourists, such as from the Middle East, might also be an easier fit for some of the more conservative regions earmarked for tourism growth.  

Tourism officials have played down the possibility of cultural friction which may accompany the influx of more non-Muslim visitors, asserting that Indonesia's new tolerant Islam can accommodate everybody."Perhaps there are some particular locations which are extremely strict (religiously)," stated Hiramsyah Thaib, who heads the"10 New Balis" initiative.  "We think we won't have any issues.  Sometimes we have problems from the media, but not in fact."  Yet Islamic hard-liners are becoming more assertive in recent years, possibly spooking investors by undermining Indonesia's image as a moderate state.   Subianto was endorsed by Muslim groups favoring Shariah law.

The tourism strategy remains key to Widodo's final five-year term, though at least one goal -- 20 million people this year -- seems to have been overly ambitious.  The 2019 visitor tally is forecast to be 18 million, based on current growth figures, stated Thaib.Nonetheless, the Indonesian tourism industry grew by 7.8percent in 2018, or double the global average, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council.Among those 10 sites earmarked for development is that the Borobudur Temple area and neighboring Yogyakarta, a city of several hundred thousand individuals that is embedded in a large metro area.  The town is a center of Javanese culture and a chair of royal dynasties going back centuries. Obama, who lived in Indonesia as a youngster, toured Borodbudur and Prambanan throughout the nostalgic trip.

But while the Obamas got about with relative ease, including private jet travel, ordinary traffic struggle with congested roads packed with motorbikes weaving in and out of slow-moving traffic.Travelers hoping to be set up at Borobudur before sunrise need at least 90 minutes to get there from Yogyakarta, a journey of 40 km (24 miles).  A 230-kilometer (140-mile) round trip to the Dieng highlands, with terraced areas, small temples and a vibrant volcanic river, requires a complete day of traveling, some of it on bumpy back roads.Anton McLaughlin, a 55-year-old visitor from York, England, said he had been amazed by the amount of motorbikes in the roads.  Talking during a jeep tour of the slopes of Mount Merapi, he said he has become more conscious of the natural disasters Indonesians endure regularly.   Merapi's last significant eruption in 2010 murdered 347 individuals, and the ruins of one ruined hamlet were a part of the excursion.

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