Source : Jakarta Post – September 11, 2011
By Indah Setiawati
A large white tent within the Sydney Opera House in Australia was packed with around two hundred guests, mostly Australians. During the Friday evening event — “Komodo: The Real Wonder of the World”, the guests probably realized that Bali is not the only place worth visiting in Indonesia, which is also home to the Komodo — the last dragon on earth.
The event organized by the Indonesian Culture and Tourism Ministry aims to promote the Komodo National Park in East Nusa Tenggara as a conservation area and tourist destination. A similar event was held in Bali in July and another in Chicago, the US, on Sept. 22. The ministry’s director general for marketing Sapta Nirwandar said the campaign was collaboration between the government and the private sector. “The government cannot work alone in promoting Komodo National Park,” he said.
Hermawan Kartajaya, founder of strategy and consulting firm MarkPlus, said the government and the private sector plan to set up The Real Wonder of the World foundation, which is expected to be officiated in December. The foundation, he said, would open opportunities for all regents to submit natural and cultural highlights in their areas to compete in the list of The Real Wonders of the World.
The action was made following a reported spat between the ministry and the New7Wonders foundation, resulting in the ministry’s decision to withdraw the Komodo Park in the New7Wonders contest, pledging instead to continue the promotion on their own. The Ministry previously backed the bid for the park to be named as one of the seven new natural wonders of the world through an online voting campaign. In Sydney, the campaign was kicked off with a cocktail party and reggae music.
Presenter Olga Lydia, a member of Friends of Komodo community, came to the stage with testimony of her diving experiences off Komodo, where she encountered fish, large and small, played with giant Manta Ray, was mesmerized by thousands of bats and enjoyed the pink beach in the national park. “Diving in Indonesia is a five star experience. If you go to Indonesia, I have to warn you: Indonesia is dangerously beautiful,” she said.
Travel agency businesswoman Shirlene Keen said her clients mostly knew about Bali, but not the Komodo National Park, raising hopes the government would be more aggressive in promoting the park. “My clients want to know more about accommodations there before they depart,” she said. “They are also unaware they can also enjoy the beautiful underwater scenery in addition to observing the Komodo dragon.”