Sunday, June 19, 2011


      Jakarta, June 19, 2011 (ANTARA) - Famous Hollywood actor Richard Gere will visit Borobudur and Prambanan temples on June 25-27, 2011, and expected to help promote Indonesian tourism internationally.
       "Gere has a lot of fans in Asia, the United States and Europe, so his visit hopefully will help promote Borobudur and Prambanan temples world-wide," Sapta Nirwandar, tourism and culture ministry`s director general of marketing, said at a press conference here last weekend.

       In Borobudur temple, the actor, who will be accompanied by his family, will join a Morning Peace Walk with Buddha priests. He will also plant a buddhi tree in the temple area. The co-star of Julia Robert in Pretty Woman will later visit Pawon and Mendut temples.
      A practicing Buddhist, Gere will be a guest of honor at the Masterpiece of Borobudur Ballet to be performed at an open stage of Aksobya, eastern Borobudur.
      During his stay in Indonesia, he is also scheduled to meet Culture and Tourism Minister Jero Wacik in Jakarta, and Sri Sultan Hamengku Buwono X in Yogyakarta Sultanate Palace.
      Located in Muntilan, Magelang, Central Java Province, Bobobudur is one of the greatest Buddhist monuments in the world which was built between AD 750 and 842. The temple is a massive step pyramid structure made from giant stone blocks, built on a hill, surrounded by valleys and hills. The levels rise up representing the stages of enlightenment.
      It was built in three tiers: a pyramidal base with five concentric square terraces, the trunk of a cone with three circular platforms and, at the top, a monumental stupa.

On the lower rectangular levels, stone carved panels tell the story of the Buddhist Sutras, in total there are 1,460 intricate scenes.

The walls and balustrades are decorated with fine low reliefs, covering a total surface area of 2,500 m2. Around the circular platforms are 72 openwork stupas, each containing a statue of the Buddha.

Founded by a king of the Saliendra dynasty, it was built to honour the glory of both the Buddha and its founder, a true king Bodhisattva. The name Borobudur is believed to have been derived from the Sanskrit words vihara Buddha uhr, meaning the Buddhist monastery on the hill.

The list of the Seven Wonders of the World has changed many times over the years, and often Borobudur has been included. UNESCO added the monument to its list of World Heritage Sites in 1991.

UNESCO and Indonesian government undertook a complete overhaul of the monument in a big renovation project from 1975 to 1983.

A total of 440,000 foreign tourists are expected to visit the Borobudur Temple in Central Java in 2011. At least 4,000 domestic and foreign tourists visit Borobudur daily, and the number can increase to at least 9,000 tourists per day during holiday.

"The number of foreign tourist arrivals at Borobudur has been quite encouraging lately despite several tragic events such as the eruptions of Mount Merapi which has now returned to its dormant state," president director of the Borobudur-Prambanan-Ratu Boko Tourism Park Purnomo Siswoprasetyo said recently.

The number of tourists visiting Borobudur had never decreased and leading travel agents had now included Borobudur and Prambanan tours in their itineraries, he said.

Various promotions will be organized to attract foreign tourists to Borobudur and surrounding areas, including the Masterpiece of Borobudur Ballet which will be attended by Richard Gere this month.

"We hope the visit of Richard Gere will serve as a special promotion for Borobudur, and we hope in the future, many more Hollywood stars will visit Borobudur," Purnomo Siswoprasetyo said.

The tourism and culture ministry is not only preparing for a special welcome for Richard Gere, but is also planning to offer the Hollywood actor to become an Indonesian tourism ambassador.

Director general Sapta Nirwandar said he had not yet conveyed the offer to Gere personally.

"We plan to do it after giving a chance to Richard Gere to know Indonesia better," Sapta said.

Gere is a Hollywood actor who has very good credibility, so he is potential to become an Indonesian tourism envoy, he added.

Born on August 31, 1949, Richard Tiffany Gere began acting in the 1970s, when he played a supporting role in "Looking for Mr. Goodbar", and a starring role in "Day of Heaven".

He went on to star in several hit films including "An Officer and a Gentleman", "Pretty Woman", "Primal Fear" and "Chicago", for which he won a Golden Globe Award as Best Actor, as well as a Screen Actors Guild Award as part of the Best Cast.

His interest in Buddhism began when he traveled to Nepal in 1978 with a Brazilian painter, Sylvia Martins.

The tourism ministry has earlier named Microsoft boss Bill Gate, and international marketer Phillip Kotler as Indonesian tourism ambassadors.

"The more world public figures joining as Indonesian tourism ambassadors, the better our tourism promotion will be," Sapta Nirwandar said.

The government has set itself a target of 7.7 million foreign tourist arrivals this year. ***5***


(T.F001/A/F001/B003) 19-06-2011 22:21:03

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