Jakarta. Chief Maritime Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan urged for a quicker pace of developments around Lake Toba in North Sumatra after a coordination meeting in the provincial city of Parapat on Saturday (08/07).
Tourism investments, according to the minister, cannot all come from the government, inviting private companies and state-owned enterprises to shift their attention to the region.
The meeting also discussed other ongoing developments int he region, including the renovation of Silangit Airport that will allow the hub to operate international flights.
"International flights need to be opened due to an increasing number of tourists to the area. I have received reports that tourists visiting Samosir Island in 2016 numbered over 260,000, despite incomplete infrastructure," Luhut said.
In addition, state-run bus company Damri is slated to begin serving Silangit Airport to and from Siantar.
"Garuda Indonesia and several other airlines have mentioned opening international route," the minister added, referring to Indonesia's national flag carrier.
But perhaps the most pressing issue in the region is the lake itself, which has become increasingly polluted in recent years.
"Changes should be done. From our studies with the World Bank, which we will announce in the near future, we have seen worsening pollution from household trash, hotels and animals. If there are companies involved in this, we need to evaluate [them]," Luhut said.
Tourism Minister Arief Yahya also said that regional administrations must improve readiness to attract more tourists.
"By 2019, we hope to attract 20 million tourists. A large portion of which will visit Lake Toba," Arief said.
According to Arief, Silangit Airport will be established as an international airport in September, with an addition of 142 hectares of land.