Sun, 15 Jun 2003

WTO honors Megawati for commitment to tourism

Sri Wahyuni and Tarko Sudiarno, The Jakarta Post, Yogyakarta

President Megawati Soekarnoputri was honored with a plaque from the World Tourism Organization (WTO) on Saturday for her strong support and commitment to the tourism sector in the country.

Secretary-General of the WTO Francesco Frangialli presented her with the honor during the official opening ceremony of the Borobudur International Festival (BIF) 2003 at the Borobudur Temple complex.

The festival opening was marked by the striking of the world peace gong, which is considered a symbol of peace and unity for humanity. The President made no speech at the ceremony.

Among the other officials present were director and representative of UNESCO Indonesia Steven Hill, who attended on behalf of UNESCO's Director General Koichiro Matsuura, Minister of Culture and Tourism I Gde Ardhika and Central Java Governor Mardiyanto.

The host country is among 10 nations, including the U.S., Japan, India, South Korea, Singapore, Vietnam and Malaysia, participating in the weeklong festival that began on Wednesday. The festival is held to commemorate the 20th year of the restoration of the ancient temple and also in conjunction with Indonesian Heritage Year 2003.

"Her initiatives have encouraged economic development, generation of income and employment in local communities, and the stimulation of small and medium scale enterprises," Frangialli said in outlining Megawati's suitability for the award.

"The tourism sector has been effectively deployed to preserve and conserve Indonesia's unique cultural and built heritage in a sustainable manner," Frangialli said.

The President has also consistently supported heritage site management and tourism, with Borobudur as the prime example.

"She has lent her prestige to various high-profile events designed to highlight Borobudur's ongoing contribution to the country's cultural heritage," he said.

WTO, according to Frangialli, also recognized with appreciation and gratitude the President's support of the tourism sector that has made Indonesia a leading travel destination.

"The presentation of the plaque to Her Excellency by the secretary-general of the World Tourism Organization is an honor which is not confined to the World Tourism Organization but is being made on behalf of the entire global tourism community," he said.