Mount Rinjani, in the Indonesian island of Lombok in West Nusa Tenggara, has been designated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as a world geopark and can be developed as a tourist destination of international standard, in an effort to improve the living conditions of the local population.
General Manager of Geopark Rinjani, Chairul Mahsul, stated in West Nusa Tenggara provincial capital of Mataram over the weekend that the UNESCO executive board has designated Geopark Rinjani as a new member of the UNESCO Global Parks.
Mahsul, who is also an assistant for economy and development of the secretariat of the West Nusa Tenggara provincial administration, expressed gratitude to all parties for their assistance in achieving the Global Geopark status.
Mount Rinjani is located in Mount Rinjani National Park, which straddles around the four districts of Lombok Utara, Lombok Barat, Lombok Tengah, and Lombok Timur in West Nusa Tenggara Province.
One of the charms of the national park is Lake Segara Anak, which is located 2,010 meters above sea level. Part of the lake is located in the 3,726-meter-high volcano.
Segara Anak Lake is so wide and appears like the sea with its blue waters. The name Segara Anak means child of the sea. Segara Anak Lake holds various mysteries and invisible power.
People feel content to stay a long time in this place because of the large community of mysterious spirits that live around the lake.
The local people believe that if the lake looks wide when seen at a distance, it is a sign that they would live to an old age; if the lake seems narrow, then it is a sign of short age.
So, in order to avoid being pessimistic, people quickly purify themselves by lifting up their spirits, calming their soul, and looking at the lake contentedly.
Mount Rinjai geopark contains historical values that can then be introduced to the wider community, both within and outside the country.
Hence, the tourism of Mount Rinjani needs to be developed with the basis of geopark, because its value is more than just tourism.
Geopark has a scientific value from the process of the formation of the mountain, from where many things can be explained.
Therefore, the local government must make all-out efforts to accelerate the development of the Mount Rinjani and the Rinjani National Park into a world tourism destination in Indonesia.
Mahsul stated that with the enhancement of status of Rinjani region as a global geopark, the area will be increasingly promoted to the international community, as well as in hundreds of other geoparks of the world.
"Throughout the world, there are hundreds of Unesco Global Geoparks, and the entry of Mount Rinjani into Unesco Global Geopark is certainly an effective promotion event, especially for the tourism sector of West Nusa Tenggara, and more international tourists will be interested to visit Mount Rinjani," he asserted.
Tourism Minister Arief Yahya also welcomed the designation of the area as a global geopark, which will boost the prestige of Indonesia.
The tourism minister noted that the designation of the mount by UNESCO as a world geopark is also expected to increase tourist visits to the province and improve the local economy.
"China and Korea have developed geoparks. China had successfully developed the Yuntaishan Geopark in 2000, which was visited by 200 thousand tourists at the time but then rose to 1.25 million tourists, with foreign exchange earnings of US$90 million in 2004," he noted.
In the meantime, West Nusa Tenggara Tourism Office Chief Lalu Muhammad Faozal positively welcomed the designation of Mount Rinjani as a global geopark.
According to him, the struggle of West Nusa Tenggara Provincial Government since 2013 has been paid, and Mount Rinjani`s reverberation is expected to be more widely heard in the world.
"This is a positive thing. Mount Rinjani area will be more global, and the impact will be an increase in the number of tourist visits," Faozal elaborated.
Further, he added that the West Nusa Tenggara Tourism Office will continue to maintain the status of Mount Rinjani as part of the World Geopark network or UNESCO Global Geopark (UGG).
"After Rinjani becomes part of the World Geopark network or UNESCO Global Geopark, our next great task is to maintain its status," he noted.
According to him, the local government alone cannot maintain the status of Rinjani as the UGG. All parties must also be involved, and one of them is the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, to manage Gunung Rinjani National Park.
The Gunung Rinjani National Park lies within the major transition zone (Wallace), where the flora and fauna of South East Asia make a dramatic transition into that which is typical of Australia.
The park has a rich variety of plants and animals, although they can be hard to spot due to the terrain and rainforest cover.