Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Indonesia Seeks Unesco Stamp for Mount Batur and Pacitan Caves

The government has proposed that the Mount Batur National Park in Bangli district, Bali, be incorporated into Unesco’s Global Geoparks Network.

A geopark is defined by the UN body as “a territory encompassing one or more sites of scientific importance, not only for geological reasons but also by virtue of its archeological, ecological or cultural value.”

Achyaruddin, promotions director for the Culture and Tourism Ministry, said on Wednesday that getting Mount Batur recognized as a geopark would help boost visitor numbers to the area.

“We have two sites in the country — Mount Batur and Pacitan — that we’ve already proposed to Unesco for inclusion into the Global Geoparks Network,” he said.

Batur is an active volcano that sits in the middle of two concentric calderas in northeast Bali. The calderas are also home to traditional villages that rely on tourism as a key source for revenue.

The East Java district of Pacitan, meanwhile, is renowned for its intricate network of coastal caves, as well as for its location along the Thousand Peaks mountain range that runs lengthwise across much of Java.

Achyaruddin said the advantages of joining the geoparks network included international promotion through the Unesco banner, thus obviating the need to shell out much funding for tourism promotion.

“Once a national geopark has formally gone international in the respects of conservation, education and tourism, it can attract more foreign investors,” he said.

He added the ministry believed Batur and the subdistrict of Kintamani in which it was located should be recognized as a geopark because of the “very enchanting mountain range and lakes that can potentially be developed as a global geopark tourist site.”

“And because it’s in Bali, one of the world’s leading tourism destinations, it’s therefore already very accessible to foreign tourists.”

Kintamani subdistrict will officially be designated a national geopark by the government in January, prior to an assessment in July of its qualifications for entry in the Global Geoparks Network.

Made Ginayar, the Bangli district head, said his administration would back the park’s nomination as part of its five-year tourism development plan.

Only two Southeast Asian locations — Malaysia’s Langkawi Geopark and Vietnam’s Dong Van Karst Geopark — are currently on the Unesco list.

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