The central and provincial governments have jointly agreed to develop Mount Batur area as a major tourist attraction after UNESCO inscribed the volcano and its surrounding area to the Global Geoparks Network (GNN) last September.
Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Mari Elka Pangestu said that the governments would be focusing on three main targets: the implementation of conservation, education and income-generating efforts through developing community-based and ecotourism.
Mt. Batur is located in Kintamani resort area, which has been included as one of 16 strategic national development areas for extensive development in the next five years. Kintamani’s main focus will be on ecotourism.
“Mt. Batur area could be designated as a destination for historical and cultural tourism, as well as medical and wellness tourism. It has a unique history and culture that could attract tourists. The area also has natural hot springs that are yet to be developed. We can combine natural resources with traditional medicines. That would be great,” Mari said on Saturday in Bangli, adding that spa facilities could be added to the area.
Located around 60 kilometers north of Denpasar, Mt. Batur is an active volcano, the caldera of which covers an area of 10x13 kilometer that was formed between 23,670 and 28,500 years ago.
During the 11th annual GNN meeting in Arouca Geopark in Portugal on Sept. 20, UNESCO issued a Global Geoparks Network certificate for Mt. Batur.
Mt. Batur is the 89th of UNESCO’s total 90 GNN members around the world, spreading all over 27 countries. Mt. Batur is the world‘s first geopark in Indonesia and the second in Southeast Asia, after Malaysia’s Langkawi Geopark.
Prior to its selection as a geopark, Mt. Batur had been designated by the ministry as part of its pilot project for community-based and village tourism. Nationwide, the ministry has enrolled 15 villages in its destination management organization (DMO) program.
The program’s main objective is to allow the participation of villages and their residents in tourism. With support from local administrations, the ministry organized a series of capacity building programs to improve the skills and knowledge of the local people in managing tourism activities.
Mari said she was confident that UNESCO’s acknowledgement and the ecotourism development in the area would bring prosperity for Bali, particularly for the local community in Batur.
Citing an example, Mari said that UNESCO’s acknowledgement of Mt. Taishan Geopark in China had brought about a positive impact on that community.
In 2007, only 200,000 tourists visited Mt. Taishan Geopark, attracting US$3 million in foreign exchange revenue. Only three years after being designated as a world geopark, the number of tourists visiting Taishan had increased
fivefold, while the amount of foreign exchange revenue tripled. Economic growth in Taishan was also impressive, with 400 new hotels built employing more than 5,000 people.
“Investment keeps flowing to Mount Taishan Geopark. We really hope that Batur will follow the success of Taishan. Mount Batur will become a role model in developing other geoparks throughout Indonesia,” she added.
Bangli Tourism Agency data shows that 400,000 tourists visited Kintaman area in 2011. Around 2.9 million foreign tourists visited Bali in the same year.
In addition to Batur, the Indonesian government proposed five locations as world geoparks, including Lake Toba in North Sumatra and Mount Rinjani on Lombok Island. “UNESCO’s acknowledgement for Batur is a real source of pride for us. We had to wait four years to receive this status. I am really optimistic that we can propose other locations to be included as world geoparks in the near future,” Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Jero Wacik stated.
Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika added that Bali should be very proud of the UNESCO acknowledgement of Mt. Batur. “The acknowledgement has proven that Mt. Batur caldera not only received attention from locals, but also
from the international community. We should be proud of this,” he said.
Pastika added that Mt. Batur had been an icon of tourism in Bali. “And don’t forget that the acknowledgement will have a high economic value, as the Batur caldera will become more popular and more tourists, as well as researchers, will visit the site. In the end, it will bring a positive economic impact to the local community,” he said.