by Abu Hanifah
PARAPAT, Indonesia, April 11 (Xinhua) -- In a bid to boost tourism in North Sumatra's Lake Toba province, the Indonesian government has opened a "nomadic escape" destination which boasts unparalleled views of the areas scenic and cultural wonders.
The Kaldera Toba Nomadic Escape lies 1,600 meters above sea level at the edge of the expansive Lake Toba in two hectares of fresh, green pine forest.
The destination offers incredibly beautiful views of the world's greatest volcanic lake, coupled with scenic views of the traditional Sigapiton village in the valley.
The village is inhabited by the old North Sumatra Batak tribe, with many tribespeople still living in traditional houses.
Located 20 minutes away by car from Lake Toba's popular Parapat tour spot, the Kaldera is replete with an advanced camping ground for adventurous tourists and trekkers. Its facility comprises large tents, running water, toilets, an amphitheater and caravan parks.
It also has distinctive bubble tents, enabling tourists to see the stars at night through the tents' transparent ceiling.
"This spot is the answer to our urgent need for a high quality tourist facility at Lake Toba," said Indonesian Minister of Tourism Arief Yahya.
"The nomadic concept fits with the character of Lake Toba tourism, we have to maximize the existing potential here," the minister has said in a speech to inaugurate the Kaldera Escape resort.
The minister said the opening of the nomadic tourism spot at Lake Toba is part of the government's moves to accelerate development in four super-prioritized destinations this year.
The other three destinations are Mandalika in Lombok, Labuan Bajo in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) and Borobudur in Central Java provinces.
The government has previously opened nomadic tour spots in Borobudur and Labuan Bajo, Arief said.
The minister pointed out that the nomadic tour spot concept is highly attractive to investors for its simple and lucrative characteristics, including inexpensive outlays, quick start up and high investment returns.
Additionally, the concept quickly benefits people in the surrounding area, as well as the regional government, said Arief.
"The Kaldera Toba Nomadic Escape is part of the planned Toba Kaldera Resort compound which comprises 386.7 hectares around the lake," said the minister.
"At least seven investors have signed their commitments to develop hotels and resorts here with total investments of around six trillion rupiah (about 423.8 million U.S. dollars)," Arief Yahya told Xinhua on the sidelines of the inauguration.
The projects will be coordinated by the governmental Lake Toba Development Authority (BPODT), he added.
The government is providing tax-free incentives for investors during the project's construction period and a single window process to organize administration documents so as to streamline the initiative, the minister explained.
On the same occasion, BPODT Chairman Arie Prasetyo said that the Kaldera resort will initially have a capacity to accommodate 50 tourists per day as the construction of more facilities are underway.
"This spot is designed as a sustainable tourism area and will be integrated with the nearby Sibisa airstrip and Sigapiton traditional village," he told Xinhua.
The Sibisa airport renovation project, located around seven km from Parapat is also underway. The project is designed to add air access to Lake Toba from the existing Silangit International Airport, situated 10 km away from Parapat.
A helipad will also be constructed to accommodate VIP tourists' access to Kaldera, which is expected to attract tourists from Malaysia, Singapore and European countries.
As for the project's longe-term future, Arie said that regional airlines would open a direct flight from Malaysia's Kuala Lumpur to Silangit International Airport at an affordable rate in May.
Lake Toba was created by a catastrophic super-volcano erupting around 75,000 years ago, resulting in a drastic change of climate and population distribution on earth.
The mega-eruption in Toba was the largest explosive eruption on earth in the last 25 million years.
The lake, thought to be the largest in Southeast Asia, has a huge island called Samosir in the middle, which hosted most clans of the Batak people in the past. It offers myriad North Sumatran cultural attractions.
Indonesia has set a target to receive 20 million foreign tourists this year, higher than the targets set in previous years.