Tempo Interaktif reports that 70 tourism workers from the Indonesian province of Aceh are undergoing on-the-job practical training in Bali. The group from the North Sumatra region devastated by the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004 is comprised of 25 tour guides, 20 home-industry souvenir producers, and 25 training staff and tourism stakeholders.
The Communications Deputy Manager for Economics and Commerce of the Agency for Rehabilitation and Reconstruction of Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam and Nias (BRR NAD-Nias), Badrul Fadhil, said the training was being undertaken in anticipation of the coming growth in tourism to North Sumatra. Fadhil said, "the potential is great because Aceh is now known to the entire world." In the course of rebuilding Aceh, no less than 1,200 non-government organization, both domestic and international, have contributed their efforts – all of whom now know the area and are promoting it to the world.
A number of important infrastructure projects have been completed including airports and ports, as well as access roads to tourism areas. There have also been monuments and museums built that are dedicated to the tsunami, an Aceh batik museum, and enhancement of areas used for mass graves following the natural disaster. While Fadhil acknowledged that many of these projects were undertaken as a memorial to those who died, their intrinsic interests as tourist attractions cannot be denied.
In all, the Tourism Department of Aceh estimates that there are 400 tourism objects in Aceh, ranging from beaches to mountain waterfalls.
Fadhil defended efforts to promote tourism to Indonesia's only province in which Islamic law is enforced, claiming the strong Islamic influence of Aceh is not an obstacle to develop tourism and, in fact, has a strong potential for developing the religious tourism niche market.
Aceh's tourism officials believe their stakeholders and tourism workers have much to learn from Bali’s large tourism industry.
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