Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The three-day visit of former US president Barack Obama to Yogyakarta on June 28-30, 2017, is expected to boost tourism and attract more foreign tourists, especially from the US, to the province.

Obama and his family arrived in the special autonomous province of Yogyakarta at noon on Wednesday, and later in the evening, they visited Borobudur Temple in Magelang where they enjoyed the beauty of the temple.

There, the former US president lauded the panorama of Borobudur and its proper maintenance, as the temple symbolizes religious harmony and tolerance in the country.

Obama and his family arrived in the Borobudur area at 4:35 p.m. Western Indonesia Standard Time (WIB) and scaled to the top of the temple, which he was visiting for the second time after the first one when he was a child.

He claimed to have visited the largest Buddhist temple in the world during his childhood in Indonesia, but he said the second visit on Wednesday was the first with his family.

PT Taman Wisata Candi Borobudur, Prambanan, and Ratu Boko President Director Edy Setijono, who accompanied Obama during the visit to Borobudur, remarked that the former US president was impressed, as it was his second visit and the first with his family.

"We hope Obamas visit would have a positive impact on tourism in Borobudur and its local community. The visit of the former president indicated that the temple is a safe place to visit," Setijono remarked.

After visiting Borobudur, Obama was scheduled to visit the Prambanan Temple in Sleman District, Yogyakarta, and thus, the yard of the temple has been sterilized for the visit.

Hundreds of tourists who had passed through the entry gate into the temple yard on Thursday morning were diverted by the security officials to Sewu Temple, located on the north side of Prambanan Temple.

However many of them, who were eager to catch a glimpse of Obama, opted to remain outside the Prambanan Temple area and waited for the arrival of the former US president.

"I opted to wait here because who knows, I can see Obama passing through this gate," Ade Anggoro, one of the tourists from Tangerang, Banten Province, stated.

Obama was scheduled to arrive at the Prambanan Temple at around 9 a.m. WIB, and hundreds of joint Police and Military security officials were seen on guard at every corner of the temple.

The management of Prambanan Temple had tasked an archaeologist from the Yogyakartas Cultural Heritage Preservation Agency, Wahyu Astuti, to serve as a guide for Obama and his family during their visit to the temple.

"Yes, it is true. I was asked by the Prambanan Temple authority to be a guide during Obamas visit. Obama will visit the temple on Thursday morning, and I should be ready for that," Astuti noted here on Wednesday.

As a guide for Obama, Astuti will focus on the importance of the temple rather than its history.

"The temple is a very special historical heritage site. It is a masterpiece of the Indonesian ancestors. This masterpiece is second to none in the world," Astuti stated.

Apart from Astuti, two other archaeologists from Yogyakartas Cultural Heritage Preservation Agency -- Manggar Sari Ayuwati and Ary Setiastuti -- will accompany Obama and his family during their visit to the Prambanan Temple.

In the meantime, Yogyakarta Tourism Office Chief for Tourism Destination Development Sector Arya Nugrahadi remarked that Obamas visit will further strengthen the safe image of Yogyakarta as a leading tourist destination.

Nugrahadi expressed optimism that following the visit of Obama and his family, the number of foreign tourists from Europe, the US, and Asia to Yogyakarta would increase.

According to Nugrahadi, Obamas visit to Borobudur Temple, Prambanan Temple, and other historical sites in Yogyakarta will further demonstrate to the international community that the province is one of the ancient centers of civilization, which is interesting to visit.

"Hence, services at all tourist destinations in Yogyakarta must also be continuously improved to meet international standards," he noted.

The Yogyakarta Tourism Office is targeting to attract 400 thousand foreign tourists in 2017, or an increase from the 2016 target of 360 thousand.

Yogyakarta, with its rich history and culture as well as several tourist attractions, continues to intensify its efforts to promote its tourism sector.

As one of the leading cultural centers in Java, Yogyakarta is blessed with numerous scenic tourist attractions, which are being developed and promoted to attract as many tourists as possible.

Hence, spokesman of the Yogyakarta Tourism Office Yunianto Dwi Sutono remarked that a Tourist Information Center was set up in front of the Inna Garuda Hotel to facilitate visitors in receiving information.

The Tourist Information Center is operational during the Lebaran holiday season this year, with service hours starting at 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. WIB.

"Our goal is to provide a variety of information and special services to tourists visiting Yogyakarta, so they feel comfortable to enjoy their holidays," Sutono emphasized.

In addition to the Tourist Information Center, he pointed out that services to tourists during the Lebaran holidays will be offered via mobile phone short messaging service.

To offer satisfaction and comfort to tourists visiting Yogyakarta, local Tourism Office Head of Tourism Destination Development Arya Nugrahadi has encouraged tourism managers to apply reasonable tariffs during the 2017 Eid al-Fitr, better known as Idul Fitri or Lebaran holidays.

Nugrahadi remarked that the parking rates and entry fees at several tourist attractions should be made reasonable, and if there is an increase, it should not be excessive.

He expressed hope that the tourism managers would not arbitrarily raise the entry fees, except for a rational reason, since they must pay attention to its impact on the interest of the tourists who would like to visit Yogyakarta.

"Application of adequate tariffs will have a positive impact on the tourism image of Yogyakarta," he remarked.

Nugrahadi noted that in addition to the entry tariffs, he also expressed hope that parking service tariffs around the tourist attractions would be applied fairly.

According to Nugrahadi, the momentum offered by the Lebaran holidays this year provides an opportunity for tourism managers to deliver optimal service by not merely being profit-oriented at the expense of Yogyakartas tourism image.


Reporter: Otniel Tamindael
Editor: Tasrief Tarmizi
Copyright © ANTARA 2017