Mon, 10 Oct 1994

Bukittinggi will beef up services, tourist industry

By Ridwan M. Sijabat

BUKITTINGGI, West Sumatra (JP): This rapidly growing mayoralty that won the prestigious Parasamya Purnakarya Nugraha award for successful development, will continue gearing up services in the tourism industry to better its people's livelihood.

Mayor Armedi Agus said the local administration is intensifying infrastructure development to support the service and tourism industries.

"The 25,000-kilometer-square mayoralty with a population of 85,600 has tremendous potential to develop the service and tourism industries in the coming years," he told The Jakarta Post after receiving the Parasamya Purnakarya Nugraha award from Minister of Manpower Abdul Latief during a ceremony here last week.

He said local and national businessmen have been building hotels, entertainment centers, shopping centers, handicraft industry and travel bureaus to help develop the mayoralty's economy.

At least 55 non-star hotels have been built in the town, he added.

Many local people have also built home industries producing handicrafts and traditional garments for sale to domestic and foreign visitors.

The hilly town, situated around 90 kilometers east of the provincial capital of Padang, is surrounded by attractive tourist resorts. It is bordered by the Anai Valley to the west, Mount Merapi to the east and Japanese Tunnel in the north.

The number of foreign tourists visiting the town has increased almost 300 percent from 127,000 during the fourth Five Year Plan (Pelita) to 498,875 during the fifth Pelita, that ended last March.

The relative success in economic development has also increased the townspeople's annual per capita income by around 25 percent from Rp 978,000 (US$470) in the fourth Pelita to Rp 1.2 million in the fifth. The gross regional product increased from Rp 69.2 billion to Rp 96.8 billion in the same period.

The mayor said the tourism industry is not only important in triggering the town's growth but also in creating new jobs.

Work hard

About the award, he said that the local people should not be too proud because the mayoralty still lags behind in many ways.

"The people should continue working hard hand in hand with the government to make development succeed and raise their living standards," said Armedi, who is also an army colonel.

The mayoralty has won numerous national awards since 1989 for its success in regional development. This year it has won the Adipura award for the sixth time for its cleanliness drive. It has also won several awards in the fields of cooperatives, traffic and information campaigns.

Impressed by the numerous achievements, Minister of Manpower Abdul Latief promised local community leaders financial aid for local small-scale tourist entrepreneurs.

"I will approach Minang (West Sumatra) businessmen in Jakarta about establishing partnerships with local entrepreneurs," he said.

The minister also promised technical and financial assistance to develop potential industries next year.