Indonesian Tourism Minister Arief Yahya expressed keenness on witnessing the inclusion of Meratus Mountains in South Kalimantan Province into the prestigious list of UNESCO Global Geoparks (UGGp) in future to facilitate greater global exposure.
With the attainment of this UGGp status, Meratus Mountains could also be developed further to become one of the popular tourist sites, and more tourism products could also be promoted at the global level, Yahya noted in a press statement made available to ANTARA here on Tuesday.
"South Kalimantan has huge tourism potential owing to its diverse natural and cultural heritage in the form of the Barito River, Bekantan (proboscis monkey endemic to Kalimantan), and foods. Please pick the most favorable one," he stated.
The government was keen to choose Meratus Mountains owing to its most favorable tourism potential for South Kalimantan to make the province one of the global tourist destinations, he stated, adding that a meeting was held to discuss this matter.
"We are willing to see South Kalimantan become a global tourist destination. Next year, we are launching the 2020 Visit of South Kalimantan. The Tourism Ministry will help promote and advertise it, develop tourist destinations, and prepare human resources," he stated.
In the meantime, South Kalimantan Governor Sahbirin Noor affirmed that Meratus Mountains, with their slope partially covering the area of Nateh Village in Batang Alai Timur Sub-district, Hulu Sungai Tengah District, was recognized as a national geopark, but the status would be increased to become UGGp.
"To this end, we are optimistic of receiving the Tourism Ministry’s assistance," Noor stated.
In response to the South Kalimantan governor's request, Yahya noted that the Tourism Ministry would support the South Kalimantan provincial government's endeavors to apply for the UGGp status.
"We feel that a tourist site can become a global tourism destination if we select it accurately. I had even resided here and fell in love with Meratus Mountains. When I travel by land, I am used to making a stopover at Meratus to enjoy the scenery," he stated.
In April 2019, the UNESCO's Executive Board had extended the UGGp network by approving three existing geoparks. With this year's additions, the number of sites in the Global UNESCO Geoparks Network is brought to 147 in 41 countries.