On a recent informal visit to Bali, Indonesia's former Minister of Tourism and Telecommunications, Joop Ave, met with local tourism leaders and suggested that now is the time for the island's tourism players to join forces and support the completion of the Garuda Wisnu Kencana (GWK) Cultural park on the Ungasan peninsula.
The colossal project occupying 250 hectares will, when completed, include a monument plaza, an international trade and promotion center, landscaped gardens, a festival and water park, a 5,000 person capacity convention center, a resort complex, and a residential complex. The centrepiece of the park, however, will be a massive statute of the Lord Wisnu riding a mythical Garuda that will dominate Bali's southern skyline standing 146 meters above the ground and some 286 meters above sea level - the equivalent of a 16-story building.
The project, already well-underway, occupies an abandoned limestone quarry south of Bali's airport. Progress in constructing the monument has been intermittent as total funding for the project remains a stumbling block.
Nothing New in Bali
Quoted in the Indonesian-language Bali Post, Mr. Ave urged completion of the project as a means of preserving Bali's attractiveness by creating a structure that will be admired by visitors for hundreds of years to come.
Acknowledging the controversy that has surrounded the project, Mr. Ave reminded that no great accomplishment is without its detractors. Pointing to Jakarta's National Monument (MONAS) and Taman Mini Park as examples, Mr. Ave said: "(Imagine) how Bung Karno (Indonesia's First President) was opposed and showered with criticism when the National Monument was being built. The same was experienced by Ibu Tien (the wife of President Suharto) when the plans for the Taman Mini Cultural Park in Jakarta were put forward. But today, both of these monumental projects have become a source of national pride."
Because of this, he hoped the political will and money to complete the project would eventually be found. According to the dynamic and much-respected former tourism leader, Bali's culture and its cultural attractions must be preserved and developed to preserve the island's drawing power as a worldwide tourism destination.
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