Sat, 05 Jul 2003

Taufik vows to support Lake Toba's tourism

Apriadi Gunawan, The Jakarta Post, Medan, North Sumatra

Taufik Kiemas, the husband of President Megawati Soekarnoputri, has pledged to support efforts to revive Lake Toba in North Sumatra as a tourist destination.

"Bali's tourism is now reviving, and I hope Lake Toba will also experience a revival," he said on Thursday during the opening ceremony of the third Lake Toba Festival in the lakeside town of Parapat, Simalungun regency. The festival will last through July 9.

"I have no doubt that Lake Toba could be as dynamic as Bali," he said.

Taufik, who was accompanied by the Minister of Agriculture Bungaran Saragih, specifically mentioned that one factor discouraging tourists from coming to the lake is the poor condition of the access roads to the lake.

"The only access to this tourist site is over land. So the access roads have to be well-built," he said.

He, however, failed to mention how he would support programs to rehabilitate the roads leading to the lake.

Lake Toba and Samosir island, which is situated on the lake, is one of the most visited tourist destinations in the country. But the number of tourists to the resort has dropped over the past several years, along with the decline in tourist arrivals to the country.

Taufik praised the annual Lake Toba Festival as the best way to attract tourists.

The opening ceremony was also attended by North Sumatra governor Rizal Nurdin and Simalungun regent John Hugo Silalahi.

Based on the initial schedule, Megawati should have sown fish roe into the lake on Thursday as part of the festival's program. The organizers say the fish-roe sowing event was postponed until July 16.