by Magus Kutabarat-
With the NGO group he was volunteering for, Billy Bob attended a tourism forum at Tuktuk. It was a holiday weekend so Parapat was busy with traffic, and cars had to wait 3 hours for the ferry so Billy Bob chose to take the passenger boat to Tuktuk.
Tiga Raja harbor was crowded with the market because after one year construction it wasn’t completed. He heard one tourist say it reminded him of a chaotic market in Maroco.
On the boat the natural panorama of Toba looked spectacular and peaceful, until a music video was played at high volume.
At a BPK restaurant on Samosir, Billy Bob met some bule tourists with scooters. They said they enjoyed riding around Samosir but the road was badly broken and one of them fell after hitting a big hole in the road. They didnt expect a new road but wondered why road maintenance wasn’t done in a tourist place.
Billy Bob walked around Tuktuk but the concrete path over the drain was broken in many places so he decided he must walk on the road at nightime.
He met his NGO friends at the hotel restaurant that night. An outdoor karaoke bar and a live music bar were both playing loudly, disturbing the peaceful vibe. One tourist laughed and said maybe it was better Lake Toba wasn’t perfect otherwise too many tourists would come and he didn’t want that.
The next day at the Tourism Forum people talked about Jokowi’s vision for a future ‘Monaco of Asia’ and hoped a lot of money would come. They talked about a cultural event in Pangururan and attending a tourism conference in Singapore, but nothing to improve tourism facilities now.
Billy Bob was asked if he had a comment. He pointed out that tourism is based on ‘Image, Service and Promotion’. Lake Toba’s image and reputation should be based on eco-tourism, nature , culture and a peaceful and relaxing place for holiday.
Service should provide the facilities the tourist needs and making Lake Toba a better place for everyone. Cooperation is needed, not individual agenda. Promotion means the information about Lake Toba must go out to the world efficiently, with the best result.
Billy Bob thought many delegates looked embarrassed but many were applauding his speech. Afterwards the NGO were given a contract as tourism consultants. Billy Bob had made an impression.