Mardika Parama, Jakarta – The government has officially started construction on 10 planned tourism villages around Lake Toba in North Sumatra. It hopes the villages, once completed, will attract domestic and foreign tourists and boost the area's economy.
Lake Toba Tourism Authority Board (BOPDT) director Arie Prasetyo said the development of the villages was a pilot project for the development of other tourist destinations in the country. Part of the infrastructure costs are being covered by corporate donations.
"We hope Lake Toba's development will not only depend on the state budget funding but will also maximize the involvement of other stakeholders," he said in a statement on Friday.
According to Arie, state-owned oil giant Pertamina contributed to the construction of toilets in the area while state-owned pawnshop Pegadaian developed the area's waste management system.
The government has been working to develop five super-priority tourist destinations as part of its efforts to make the tourism industry one of the new drivers of the country's economic growth. The destinations are Lake Toba, Borobudur in Central Java, Labuan Bajo in East Nusa Tenggara, Mandalika in West Nusa Tenggara and Likupang in North Sulawesi.
Coordinating Maritime and Investment Minister Luhut Pandjaitan asked ministries in April to accelerate the Lake Toba villages' development in July.
"It's already clear what should be done by each ministry and institution so that the coordination will be close, despite the physical distancing," he said.
The 10 villages will be located in Humbang Hasundutan regency, Toba regency and North Tapanuli regency.
Arie said the government had also provided Rp 26 billion (US$1.8 million) in compensation to local residents whose land was to be affected by the project, which covers a total of 279 hectares.
"We gave compensation for 255 land plots owned by 204 people. The Rp 26 billion budget is funded by the state budget and will be distributed to the people," he said.
The ministry's tourism and creative economy deputy Odo Manuhutu expressed hope that the first phase of land acquisition would attract investment to the destination.
"Hopefully, the investment will boost economic growth in the region, create jobs and give added value to the local economy," he said, as quoted in the statement.
The Toba caldera was recently named a UNESCO Global Geopark during the United Nations cultural body's 209th plenary session in Paris on Tuesday.
Toba Caldera Geopark is a home to 13 geosites with striking views, namely Tongging Sipiso-piso, Silalahi Sabungan, Haranggaol, Sibaganding Parapat, Eden Park, Balige Liong Spige Meat, Situmurun Blok Uluan, Hutaginjang, Muara Sibandang, Sipinsur Bakti Raja, Bakara Tipang, Tele Pangururan and Pusuk Buhit.
Lake Toba, the world's largest volcanic lake, was formed about 74,000 years ago by a supervolcanic eruption. The bottom of the caldera later filled with water, and it is currently the largest lake in Indonesia.
The North Sumatra provincial administration is hopeful that the UNESCO recognition will help boost foreign tourist arrivals in the province.