Thu, 13 Apr 2000

TMII to celebrate silver jubilee amidst crisis

JAKARTA (JP): Taman Mini Indonesia Indah, enduring financial difficulties like many entertainment parks during this period of hardship, will celebrate its silver jubilee by staging 77 events, mostly of traditional art forms, in a week-long fiesta starting on Sunday.

"Hopefully, these events will help the people to forget all the problems we're facing," Widarso, marketing manager of the park, told a press conference on Wednesday.

According to Widarso, the park management has been badly affected by the economic crisis, that hit the country in mid 1997.

"The number of visitors has plunged drastically. We sometimes have to open then close the park. To be frank, we have had to perform some acrobatic maneuvers in order to survive and still effect a few repairs.

You can easily see many buildings here in need of repair. That's why many people have complained about the untidiness of the complex," he said.

Before the crisis, the park, located in East Jakarta, annually received some 6 million visitors when the ticket rate was still Rp 3,000 per adult and Rp 2,000 per child, Widarso said.

"The number has been steadily declining," he added.

According to data made available to The Jakarta Post after the meeting, the annual number of visitors at the park dropped drastically from 7.23 million in 1997 to 4.08 million the following year and 3.95 million last year.

"We take this downturn seriously," the park's public relations executive, Dandoel Hardoyono, said.

The trend is likely to continue this year as the park recorded only 1.68 million visitors in the first three months.

In October last year management raised the cost of the entrance ticket to Rp 4,000 for adults and Rp 3,000 for children.

Inaugurated on April 20, 1975, the park was built under the initiative and guidance of the late first lady Tien Soeharto and is under the management of Harapan Kita Foundation.

Widarso is optimistic that the series of events, carefully selected and arranged for the park's 25th anniversary, will help woo locals and foreign tourists to the vast 150-hectare park.

"We will continue working with our partners (to earn more revenues) and provide gifts to visitors on certain occasions," he said.

This year's anniversary celebration will be launched by State Minister of Tourism and Arts Hidayat Jaelani at the opening ceremony on Sunday.

The festivities will begin at 10 a.m. Featured events will include a series of exhibitions of traditional games, arts, food and handicraft festivals, children's contests, and several parades, including Barong (Chinese Lion Dance) dancers.

The management also will hold photography and poster contests.

Five painters, including Guruh Sukarno Putra, will jointly exhibit some of their works during the week-long celebration.

"Probably, I will display eight of my works. Three of them might be put on sale. But sorry, I still have not decided the price," Guruh, who attended the press meeting, said.

The main attraction will be Guruh's 30-member dance team performing with pop singer Chrisye and soprano Aning Katamsi in a colossal show titled Merah Putih.

"I hope that the audience will enjoy the singing and the dancing," Guruh, a son of the late president Sukarno, said.

The park management expects Guruh's show will fill all the 1,054 seats by setting ticket prices at Rp 75,000, Rp 100,000 and Rp 250,000 (for VIP class) per person.

Dubbed as the only place with a complete sample of Indonesian traditional arts, handicrafts, and houses, the park, whose name literally means Wonderful Indonesia Miniature Park, is a popular attraction for foreign tourists.

From the skylift, visitors have a wonderful view of a giant replica of the archipelago and 27 replicas of traditional houses originating from major provinces across the country.

The park offers hotels and restaurants and a total of 67 attractions including a cactus garden, bird park, Bekisar (Indonesian fowl) garden, fresh water aquarium, monuments, recreation centers, and a swimming pool.

A three-storied building, called Museum Indonesia, displays many aspects of Indonesian culture with a central theme of men and their surroundings.

There are at least 14 other museums where visitors can be entertained by exhibits of Indonesian sports, transportation, telecommunications, stamps, soldiery, oil and gas, information and news, fauna, Asmat carvings, heirlooms, and insects. (bsr)