Tangkahan is situated 112 km west of Medan. Located in the buffer zone of park, Tangkahan is a newly recognized ecotourism site, which can be reached within 3-4 hours from Medan. The community-based tour operator in Tangkahan has developed several attractions i.e. elephant trekking, tubing, jungle trekking, and elephant bathing. UNESCO, together with its local counterparts, is developing an ecotourism programme in Tangkahan and Bukit Lawang of GLNP. The programme includes conducting an in-depth study of the ecotourism potentials and challenges as well as the trainings on ecotourism, conservation education, rescue and first aid, publication and documentation, aimed to improve guides’ capacity.
It is expected that through this visit, the relationship and cooperation among the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the Ministry of Forestry (GLNP authorities) and UNESCO, will be strengthened, leading to a more conducive environment to develop ecotourism in GLNP and to promote World Heritage Site within Indonesia. During his visit, Mr. Laksaguna and team had the opportunity to discuss tourism issues with Tangkahan Tourism Institute (Lembaga Pariwisata Tangkahan/LPT, a local NGO who operates ecotourism in Tangkahan). They also raised some capacity issues, and discussed a potential program of PNPM (National Programme for Community Empowerment) for tourism sector in Tangkahan. Mr. Okor, Director of LPT, expressed his happiness for having the opportunity to discuss and explore further ecotourism development initiatives in Tangkahan.
Mr. Laksaguna and his team also had the opportunity to see one of the main attractions in Tangkahan, the elephant bathing in Batang Serangan River. At the end, Mr. Laksaguna and his team visited the forest restoration area in GLNP. This area is covering 50 Ha which was encroached by an oil palm company. Currently, UNESCO in collaboration with GLNP, this area is being restored by applying a scientific-based ecological restoration method. Mr. Laksaguna and his team showed a great interest in this initiative, which was reflected by a tree planting. This ceremony included Mr. Laksaguna, representing the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, GLNP authorities and UNESCO staff. Mr. Laksaguna planted a Hopea dryobalanoides, one of the most valuable species, in the restoration area.