Jakarta. Southeast Asia Heritage, an organization dedicated to promoting tourism in Asean countries, launched a free walking tour program in Jakarta's Old Town on Thursday (18/01).
The Heritage Walking Tour is a collaborative effort by the Ministry of Tourism, Komunitas Kota Tua, the Southeast Asia Tourist Guide Association (SEATGA) and Bituris Wisata Indonesia.
"Tourism is identified as one of the key industries that foster inclusive growth within the Asean Economic Community. At the same time the Asean Tourism Secretariat highlights culture and heritage as our key strengths," said Bituris general manager Reyhan Pattiwael.
Reyhan said the program is dedicated to preserving Indonesia's living heritage in a rapidly-changing society.
"We're proud of our multicultural, multifaceted history, and we're eager to help local and foreign tourists connect their stories, as they discover the sights, tastes, smells and sounds that give a personal touch of Southeast Asia, especially Indonesia."
In line with the organization's mission to promote Indonesian cultural heritage, the program also aims to support local businesses and empower communities to generate a sustainable source of income.
"Our efforts help to maintain and restore ancestral homes, living neighborhoods and historical sites, and educate the community, especially tourists, about quality sustainable tourism."
The tour started with a movie screening about the Portuguese and Dutch arrival in Batavia (as Jakarta used to be known) in search for spices.
Then it continues to the Aroma Nusantara coffee shop for coffee tasting, and then heads to Taman Fatahillah for Cakrabuana pencak silat martial arts and gendang rampak drum performances.
Afterwards, tour participants visited puppeteer Aldy Sandjoyo's studio to learn the history of Indonesia's traditional puppet theater and the process of puppet making.
Then they went to the Kali Besar area, which is being revitalized for this year's Asean Games. Located in the middle of the Old Town, the Kali Besar River was the biggest distribution channel from the Sunda Kelapa port in the 19th century.
The tour ends with a cooking demo of tempe bacem (Javanese sweet marinated tempeh) at Historia Food and Bar.
Reyhan said the interactive program is one of the ways to give a direct experience to tourists, especially foreigners who are passionate to learn a new culture.
He said the tour is now free of charge, but when the current promotion ends, they will be selling tour packages.
"We are still promoting the program right now and are still in the process of adjusting the schedule and services. Hopefully, there will be a lot of tourists, especially foreigners."
In the future, Reyhan said, they will launch a walking tour in Yogyakarta.