Designation of Toraja as prioritized tourism destination to help improve accessibility, spurs development World Bank may become engaged in development of Toraja
Some tourist destinations have made a name for themselves long before the authorities granted them the special attention they deserve.
For many foreigners, Tana Toraja rings a bell because of its widely distributed coffee as well as its cultural heritage sites exposed in international publications and at global tourism trade fairs.
However, it was only recently that the government decided to designate Tana Toraja, the pride of South Sulawesi, as one of its emerging tourist destinations to be developed as a matter of priority, along with 10 others appointed earlier.
A special team comprising members of various ministries and agencies had been set up to speed up the development of Tana Toraja, said Deputy Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Safri Burhanuddin.
“Tana Toraja itself is already part of the national strategic tourism area, so we will only need to carry out an integrated study to develop Toraja further,” said Safri, who oversees human resources, knowledge and technology as well as maritime culture at the Office of the Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister.
(Read also: Toraja to be next top-priority tourist destination)
The team’s main tasks will include improving access to the area, particularly by expanding Pongtiku Airport and completing the construction of Buntu Kunik Airport.
At present, tourists typically embark on a nine-hour car ride from the provincial capital of Makassar to reach Tana Toraja.
Safri said the aim was to promote Tana Toraja as Indonesia’s main cultural destination.
Home to thousands of indigenous Torajan people, the area is widely known for its unique traditional funeral ceremonies, beautiful housing architecture and buffalo fighting, among other things.
Tana Toraja welcomed 296,136 domestic and 34,865 foreign tourists in 2015, according to Tourism Ministry data.
In the same year, North Toraja hosted 286,669 domestic and 32,763 foreign tourists.
The government hopes to double arrivals by 2019.
A recent visit by Vice President Jusuf Kalla, himself a South Sulawesi native, had played a significant role in the area’s designation as the 11th emerging tourist destination, Safri said.
The government has declared tourism one of the country’s main sectors to develop and expects to garner US$20 billion in foreign exchange revenue in 2019, double the figure of 2013.
To achieve this goal, it eyes 15 million foreign tourists this year and 20 million next year.
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