Today is World Tourism Day. It is observed on the 27th of September each year. Even though travel is practically everyone’s #1 bucket list, the simple truth about your overseas travel is still amazing. Whether you are an active traveller or a passive tourist (passive because you are on a fully-packaged tour), or anything in between, you become part of a global movement every time you travel out of your own country.
That’s the sentiment expressed by Taleb Rifai, Secretary-General of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO). In his World Tourism Day message, he said: “a global movement that has the power to drive inclusive development, to create jobs and to build the sustainable societies we want for our future. This movement also contributes to build mutual understanding and to safeguard our shared natural and cultural heritage,” he added.
I recently travelled to Surakarta (or Solo as the city is better known in overseas) to experience its cultural heritage. Like in many things in life, procrastination sets in and so is Solo. It was in my bucket list for travel over many years. However, during the last NATAS Holidays 2015 travel fair, I became acquainted with the two dancers, Dhea and Endang, who performed at the fair. The best part was – they came from Solo! Dhea told me about her Festival of umbrellas and extended an invitation.
The incumbent President of Indonesia, Joko Widodo, was a former mayor of Solo. During his mayorship, he rebranded and promoted Solo as “The Spirit of Java,” a Javanese culture and heritage centre, batik capital, and tourist-friendly city. Indeed, it is what I experienced in Solo.
On the third day of the Umbrella Festival is a street carnival of umbrellas and colourful costumes leading from the sports arena to the Balekambang site. It was a fantastic photo shoot opportunities for both the local residents and visitors alike.
Through Dhea’s introductions to her many friends, I had the wonderful opportunity of meeting both the event officials and artists alike. I even had the privilege of witnessing how Dani drew, free hand, Ramayana characters on the umbrella which was a gift to me.
My Solo visit was made memorable with the friendliness of my new friends in Solo. Their passion in their artistic pursuits amazed me and it reminded me what the founder of Matsushita Corporation, Mr.Kinosuke Matsushita, wrote – that life is “Not By Bread Alone.”
So watch out for the next Payung Festival in 2016. The poster for 2015 showed the various activities for visitors: