Komodo campaign gets warm welcome

September 24, 2011 No Comments »

Taste of Indonesia: Several people from Flores who live in Chicago perform traditional folk songs during the Komodo Night at Crystal Garden, Navy Pier in Chicago on Thursday. The event is part of a program to promote Komodo Island as an alternative tourist destination.

Chicago, Realwonderoftheworld.com - In a third round of a promotional effort, the Indonesian Culture and Tourism Ministry organized Komodo Night in Chicago on Thursday evening (Friday in Jakarta), to promote the Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis) and its habitat, in the eastern part of the archipelago, as a tourist attraction.

Hosted by the Indonesian Consulate General in Chicago, the event showcased colorful woven fabrics, a photo and video presentation and a performance by Indonesian musicians.

“We are glad that the event is taking place in Chicago. We have to follow up this event with some other promotions and also improvements to the infrastructure,” Consul General Benny Bahanadewa said during the event at Crystal Garden in Navy Pier, Chicago.

A pre-recorded speech by Indonesia’s Ambassador to the United States, Dino Patti Djalal, was screened on television monitors, welcoming visitors and thanking them for their attendance at the gathering.

Earlier, the organizers feared that the cold breeze in the city during the day would deter people from coming to the event. However, around 200 people — from professors and archeologists to teenagers — showed up for the event.

Jeffrey A. Winters, an American expert on Indonesian politics, even brought his 13 students to the event to provide them with early information about the country they plan to visit sometime this year.

Hermawan Kartajaya, Indonesian tourism ambassador, emphasized that the Komodo Night event was not the main purpose.

He said the event was part of the Wonderful Indonesia campaign to promote many wonderful attractions, especially the breath-taking views of Komodo and Rinca islands in East Nusa Tenggara, as tourist destinations.

“A more important thing is the improvement of infrastructure in those areas. Without an integrated effort from related institutions, this event will not bear fruit,” said Hermawan, the founder of marketing school MarkPlus.

Apparently, the rounds of promotional events were triggered by a spat between the New7Wonders foundation and the Indonesian government, which resulted in the government’s decision to withdraw the Komodo candidacy from the New7Wonders contest. Later, the Culture and Tourism Ministry worked with MarkPlus to promote the Komodo campaign on their own.

“I believe the [popularity of] Komodo doesn’t depend on foreign institutions,” Hermawan added.

Meanwhile, Esthy Reko Astuty, the ministry’s director for tourism promotion and publication, said the Komodo Night event obviously underlined the commitment of her office to help promote Komodo Island and its surrounding areas as alternative tourist sites.

“We have many wonderful attractions. We are committed to promoting many other tourist attractions across the country to the international community,” she said.

During the event, the Ministry presented “Friends of Komodo” certificates to Andrea Katalin Molnar, an anthropologist with Northern Illinois University, for undertaking long-term research in Flores, and Alan Resetar, whose institution The Field Museum in Chicago, is developing extensive research on the Komodo dragon.

Marketing guru Philip Kotler, who is also the special ambassador for Indonesian tourism, praised the Indonesians for their friendliness. He encouraged fellow Americans to come to Indonesia, a place where US President Barack Obama had lived as a child.

“Once you’re there [Indonesia], you will be there more than once,” he said, referring to himself and his regular visits to Indonesia.

Meanwhile, lawmaker Jefri Riwu Kore applauded the Komodo campaign, saying a growing number of tourists visiting his hometown would improve the local economy.

Taken from thejakartapost.com


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