To Explode Lake Toba Tourism

ITS-President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has called to bring about a tourism “explosion” to promote Lake Toba, following the achievement of international status of Silangit Airport set to be the main gate to tourist destinations of Lake Toba and its surroundings.

“Some 74 thousand years ago, a gigantic volcanic explosion occurred in Lake Toba that had impacted the entire world. Now, we are making a new explosion in the tourism world by opening the gateway to the beautiful and culturally rich Toba and Batak tribe, which is now wide open,” the president remarked while inaugurating a new terminal of the Silangit International Airport in Silangit, Siborong-borong, North Tapanuli, North Sumatra Province, Friday.

To achieve international status, Silangit Airport has seen a comprehensive overhaul of its facilities. The terminal is now ready to handle one million passengers annually. The runway has been expanded to a length of 2,650 meters and a width of 45 m from the previous 2,400 m x 30 m, enabling it to accommodate larger planes, such as the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737-800.

Preserving Culture

The president expressed belief that the tourism industry would help improve the welfare of the Batak people.

“Now we have created a new boom for tourism. The gate to the beautiful Lake Toba, which preserves the cultures and traditions of the Batak people, is now open,” President added.

The president has issued a directive to further extend the runway of the Silangit Airport, from 2,650 meters to three thousand meters before 2020.

“As wide-bodied aircraft can land at this airport, we will conduct tourism promotion activities in Hong Kong, China, India, and Taiwan to attract tourists from these countries to come here, either aboard regular or chartered aircraft,” Jokowi noted.

With a capacity to annually serve 500 thousand passengers, the Silangit Aiport has the custom, immigration, and quarantine facilities; a runway measuring 2,650 meters in length and 50 meters in width; and PCN capable of accommodating Airbus A320 and Boeing 737-800.  Designed to be a smart airport, it has free Wi-Fi facility, displays of flight and bus schedules, e-payment, bus ticketing machine, a tourist information booth, self check-in facility, and several other digital features.

Lake Toba, the largest lake in the Southeast Asia, lies in the province of North Sumatera. Living around the lake are the Batak sub-ethnic groups of Toba, Simalungun, Karo, and Pakpak.

The lake is situated 900 meters above sea level, measures 450 meters deep, and has an area of 1,145 square kilometers. Lying in the middle of the lake is Samosir Island, measuring 627 square kilometers in width. It can be reached in one hour by boat from Parapat, the main town on the lake’s shore. Tourist spots on the island include the village of Tomok, where tourists can see some age-old stone burials of Toba Kings, Tuktuk Village, which is a nice and cheap tourist resort on the lake’s beach. On the western part of the lake there is a beautiful waterfall, named Sipiso-piso.

According to local legend, the lake was formed by the tears of a fish princess who cried at her human husband’s broken promise. When a powerful fish-goddess, Boru Saniang Naga, married Toganaposo, a farmer, she demanded that he never mention herfishy orgin. They later had a son, called Samosir, who grew up spoiled and lazy. Losing his temper one day, Toganaposo hit the boy, calling him the son of a fish. A volcanic eruption then took place killing Toganaposo. It rained continuously until the lake was filled in.

The lake’s water goes down to the sea through the Asahan River. Halfway to the sea, the water formerly passed through the Asahan waterfall, but the waterfall has since been turned into a 600- megawatt-capacity water plant.

Every year, the town of Parapat hosts the Lake Toba Festival and performsa variety of cultural art shows of all the ethnic groups from the province.


Mario P Manalu

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