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Exploring Investment Opportunities in Borobudur as Indonesia's Super Priority Tourism Destination

The Borobudur that we see today isn’t what it used to be centuries ago. Built sometime between 778 and 850 CE by the Sailendra Dynasty, a powerful Javanese kingdom, this magnificent Mahayana Buddhist temple complex served as a pilgrimage site for centuries. However, around the 10th to 15th centuries, as the Javanese population increasingly embraced Islam, Borobudur faded from use and was eventually swallowed by the earth, hidden, and forgotten by the world. For centuries, it remained a whisper in local folklore.

(A painting by G.B. Hooijer (c. 1916–1919) reconstructing the scene of Borobudur during its heyday. Image source: Wikimedia)

In 1814, during the British occupation of Java, Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, then Governor of Java, received a report of an enormous ancient structure buried under the jungle. Intrigued, Raffles dispatched Dutch engineer H.C. Cornelius to investigate. Cornelius and his team of 200 men spent approximately two months cutting away trees, digging up soil, and removing volcanic ash, eventually revealing the vast temple complex beneath.

Borobudur's rediscovery sparked immense interest. Scholars and archaeologists flocked to the site, unraveling its secrets. Restoration efforts, however, were a slow and painstaking process. Major restorations took place throughout the 20th century, culminating in a large-scale project overseen by UNESCO and the Indonesian government in the 1970s and 80s. Finally, in 1991, Borobudur was rightfully recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

(Image source: Heri Nugroho, Wikimedia)

Today, Borobudur stands not only as a testament to Indonesia's rich cultural heritage but also as a major tourist attraction. It draws millions of visitors each year, eager to explore its intricate carvings and stupas. In 2023 alone, Borobudur welcomed approximately 3 million visitors, a significant increase from previous years, reflecting its growing popularity as a tourist destination.

In 2021, Borobudur has been designated as one of Indonesia's Super Priority Tourism Destinations. This initiative is part of a broader strategy to boost tourism, foster economic growth, and attract foreign investment to the region. Located in Central Java, Borobudur offers a unique blend of cultural heritage, historical significance, and natural beauty, making it an ideal focal point for international tourism development.

The Indonesian government has set an ambitious target of attracting up to USD 8 billion (IDR 120 trillion) in investments across the five Super Priority Destinations, including Borobudur. In 2023, foreign investment in Indonesia's tourism sector reached USD 4.3 billion. This investment is aimed at enhancing tourism infrastructure and developing high-quality hotel accommodations to boost visitor numbers and improve the overall tourist experience. In the same year efforts have been made to increase investments in these areas, with notable successes seen in other destinations like Lake Toba, which has attracted approximately IDR 600 billion according to a report by Indonesia Business Post.

In line with the government efforts to revitalize Borobudur as super priority tourism destination, the Borobudur Authority Agency has developed an Authority Zone covering an area of 309 hectares which is an exclusive tourism area with natural nuances in Purworejo Regency, Central Java. This area will be developed with the concept of culture and Adventure Eco-Tourism, of course, by developing aspects of sustainability and friendliness to nature.

This Authority Zone will be built by providing various international standard tourist facilities. Such as hotels with the concept of Glamorous Camping, Eco Resort, Fine Dining Restaurant, MICE, and supported by the surrounding area which has begun to develop, to increase the value of investment in the Borobudur Authority Zone.

(Borobudur Highland resort construction plan. Image source: Borobudur Authority Agency)

The development of Borobudur as a Super Priority Tourism Destination is expected to have a profound economic and social impact. According to recent data from Indonesian Central Bureau of Statistics (Badan Pusat Statistik), approximately 1.44 million domestic tourists visited Borobudur Temple in 2022 and continues to increase year by year. The influx of tourists and investments will create jobs, boost local economies, and improve living standards in surrounding communities.

Borobudur's elevation to a Super Priority Tourism Destination signifies a new era of growth and opportunity for Indonesia's tourism sector. With the government's robust support, strategic investments, and a focus on sustainability, Borobudur is poised to become a premier global tourist destination. This initiative not only highlights Indonesia's rich cultural heritage but also presents a lucrative opportunity for foreign investors to be part of a transformative journey in one of the world's most captivating historical sites.

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