Bantul's landscape is dominated by rice fields and beautiful villages, and hence, the local government is committed to applying guidelines for managing tourist villages more professionally.
Following the emergence of several tourist villages in Bantul during this time without a professional concept, the local government plans to apply certain guidelines for them, according to Bantul Depty District Head Abdul Halim Muslih.
"We must admit that we have not applied the guidelines for tourist villages, and as a result, they are not managed professionally," Muslih remarked in Bantul over the weekend.
Muslih highlighted the need to apply specific guidelines as the basis for managing the tourist villages more professionally.
He noted that the spirit of the local community to develop rural tourism is high, but if it is not accompanied by the application of certain criteria for good and professional management, the tourist villages in Bantul will not yield benefits as expected.
Muslih pointed out that Trimulyo had long been declared a tourist village in Bantul, but until now, the village officials are unaware of who is managing it.
Hence, with the application of clear guidelines and good discipline in the management process, he believed that the tourist villages in Bantul will be able to highlight their respective unique potentials to attract more local and foreign tourists.
With the implementation of guidelines, the Bantul district government will continue to develop its tourist villages to attract more visitors as tourism is one of the sectors that supports local revenue.
"The development of tourist villages is our priority because most of the foreign tourists arriving in Yogyakarta want to visit and stay for a while in the villages," Bantul Tourism and Culture Office spokesman Bambang Legowo had remarked in Bantul some time ago.
Bantul District has 75 villages of which 36 have now become tourist villages due to their potential and attractions, according to Legowo.
The tourist villages in Bantul are divided into three categories, such as embryonic, developing, and independent, he added.
Known as the centers of wooden batik, the villages of Kebonagung, Wukirsari Imogiri, Tembi Sewon, and Krebet Pajangan are classified into independent tourist villages because they have so far been visited by many foreign tourists.
"We will also assist in the promotion of these tourist villages so that we can achieve our main goal of making foreign tourists feel at home, stay longer, and find serenity," Bambang said.
Yogyakarta is one of the leading cultural centers in Java, and has numerous districts which are blessed with many beautiful villages, which are being developed and promoted to attract as many tourists as possible.
Every district in Yogyakarta has numerous villages that can be developed into rural tourist spots, one of them being the Kembangarum village.
"A visit to the Kembangarum tourism village is considered incomplete without exploring the Arum Laris Art House, where the tourists can learn about the traditional Javanese music instrument of gamelan," Kembangarum village spokesman Heri Kustriatmo has stated in Sleman.
Besides this, he noted that the village management also offers batik and painting courses to the tourists. The visitors can later take home the art work, which they created during the course.
"We are also offering an environment education program to the visitors as part of our efforts to make them feel at home, as they gain new experiences and everlasting memories," Heri remarked.
According to him, the tourists visiting the Kembangarum tourism village will be given information and a demonstration on how to plow fields, plant rice saplings, and ways to manage aquaculture.
"The tourists are guided by the local farmers as they gain new and memorable experiences while they join the farmers in plowing fields, planting rice saplings, and learning ways of managing the aquaculture, which are part of the tourist village management concept," Heri added.
He reported that the concept of a tourism village has inspired him to develop a model of education that the real world can implement while living in harmony with nature.
The concept was developed several years ago, when the governments of several districts in Yogyakarta realized that the visitors can be offered much more than the familiar attractions such as Yogya Keraton, as well as the Borobudur and Prambanan temples.
"Apart from enjoying the breathtaking views of mountains, forests, and plantations, the tourists can also have a memorable opportunity of trying their hand at plowing the fields and planting rice saplings with the local farmers and the community," he explained.
He further added that the Kembangarum tourist village, which occupies a 22-hectare plot of land, was inaugurated in 2005, as it offered ample arena for games and other attractions for the visitors.
"The Kembangarum tourism village is located at the slope of Mount Merapi, at an altitude of 700 meters above the sea level, thus enabling the tourists to enjoy the fresh and cool mountain air," he emphasized.
According to him, Kembangarum is also rightfully known as the tourism village of education in Yogyakarta, since the visitors can not just enjoy the panoramic beauty of its surroundings, but also gain an insight into the local culture and tradition.
Meanwhile, the practitioner of tourism and culture in Yogyakarta Widi Utaminingsih stated that the tourism villages in the region should be mapped for the development of tourism.
"Yogyakarta has a lot of villages with the potential to develop tourism, and therefore, they should be mapped so that the tourists are free to choose which village they want to visit," remarked Utaminingsih, the chief of Widya Budaya Foundation.
She pointed out that every district in Yogyakarta has several tourism villages, but only a few of them have the potential to attract tourists.
"The effort to map the potential tourism villages is aimed to attract as many tourists as possible," she claimed.
Further, she pointed out that the rural tourism sector, together with other tourist spots in Yogyakarta, can offer a complete tourism package to the visitor.
Editor: Rustam Effendi
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