Umbul Ponggok in Ponggok Village, Polanharjo Sub-district, Klaten Regency, Central Java, was initially used for irrigation of agricultural land and fishery and fulfill the need of clean water of local people. Now, Umbul Ponggok becomes favorite water attractions in Klaten.
Every day an average of about 1,000 people come to enjoy the clarity and freshness of the water at the foot of Mount Merapi. They dive to see the behavior of decorative fish that swim around or take pictures in the water. Umbul Ponggok with a pool area of about 6,000 square meters and a depth of 1.5 to 2.6 meters is essentially left natural sandy and rocky.
Managers creatively organize a number of objects in the water for the event visitors photographs, such as motorcycles, rickshaws, onthel bikes, tables, and chairs. Every certain period, the objects are always replaced so that visitors are not bored.
“Umbul Ponggok is rented for Rp 5 million per year no one is interested, now its income per month Rp 600 million,” said Village Chief Ponggok Junaedhi Mulyono in Ponggok some time ago.
Initially, in 2008, the Ponggok Village Government conducted a comparative study to Bali to gain knowledge on tourism management. Inspired by diving tourism in Tanjung Benoa, the village government also designed the Umbul Ponggok which drains clean water with a capacity of 800 liters per second to become a freshwater submarine.
Gradually, Umbul Ponggok beautified. Investments are disbursed by the village government independently, as well as from citizens who participate in investing. Funds are poured for infrastructure improvements and purchases of dive equipment.
Diving activities began in collaboration with Units Gadjah Mada University, Yogyakarta, Solo SAR, SAR Yogyakarta, and Community Diving Jogja. To add to the beauty of the scenery in the water, managers spread ornamental fish, such as koi and goldfish.
Young children, Ponggok cadets do not miss the creation by including various objects for visitors take pictures in the water. Young youths are involved in the management of Umbul Ponggok.
Satisfied viewers take pictures and record videos of their activities while in the water upload them to social media, such as Facebook, Path, Instagram, and Youtube. Thanks to the social media, Umbul Ponggok rose. Tourists keep coming.
Village income went up. Ponggok Tirta Mandiri Village Owned Enterprises, among which manage Umbul Ponggok, earned up to Rp 6.1 billion in 2015. According to Ponggok Village Secretary Yani Setiadi, 80 percent of Budi Tirta Mandiri’s revenue is contributed by Umbul Ponggok.
“Ponggok became the richest village in Klaten. The profits earned by BUMdes are returned to the public, for example, to cover the contribution of BPJS (Social Security Administering Body) of citizens not covered by the National Health Insurance program of the central government, “Yani said.
Umbul Ponggok is a concrete example of a growing village tourism potential in Klaten. Head of Culture, Tourism, Youth and Sports Klaten Joko Wiyono said, Klaten is flanked by two tourist destinations, special areas of Yogyakarta and Solo (Central Java), also has much interesting tourism potential, ranging from water tourism, cultural tourism, Special Mount Merapi.
Being on the slopes and legs of Mount Merapi, Klaten is rich in water resources. At least there are 132 springs or borders that have been partially managed to become attractions, such as Umbul Ponggok, Umbul Cokro, Umbul Manten, and Umbul Jolotundo. “There are many potential water attractions, but honestly I admit not everything can be managed optimally,” he said.
In addition to banners, there is also water tourism Rawa Jombor. Here there are floating stalls that serve culinary made from fresh fish. Unfortunately, Rawa Jombor less styled though able to suck tourists in large numbers. In 2015, Rawa Jombor tour visited 57,252 tourists. “This potential (Swamp Jombor) is not owned by Yogyakarta and Solo,” he said.
In order to suck a lot of tourists, Pemkab Klaten aspires to polish Rawa Jombor to be like Bedugul, Bali, and make it a water sports attraction. To that end, the swamps that are overgrown with water hyacinth will be laid out and the floating stalls on it will be relocated. Due to Rawa Jombor Central Java Provincial Government asset, Klaten regency will invite Pemprov to manage Rawa Jombor.
Potential water tourism developed as a mainstay of tourism Klaten, in addition to the attractions of temples, such as Plaosan, Merak, Sewu, and Sojiwan. According to Joko, Klaten regency cooperates with PT Taman Wisata Candi Borobudur, Prambanan, and Ratu Boko to develop the tour packages of the temple.
Joko said Klaten regency seeks to optimize tourism potential in the villages. For that, tourist villages are also developed, such as the Village Needle in District Bayat as a tourist village of batik and lifting craft lurik Klaten. “This year is held again Klaten Lurik Carnival to lift lurik Klaten,” he said.
This year, Klaten Lurik Carnival was held on 18 August. This activity is expected to stimulate the lurik craftsmen in Klaten, also to raise the prestige of lurik to the national and international level.
Based on data from the Department of Culture, Tourism, Youth and Sports Klaten, the level of tourist visits to a number of attractions in Klaten soaring. In 2014, total tourist arrivals were recorded at 320,862 people. By 2015, tourist arrivals have jumped to 604,700.
Improvement of tourist objects and directions to the location of the object of tourism is urged. Because, although access to Klaten is very easy, directions to the location of the tourist attraction is minimal.
“The potential of Klaten is very much, ranging from cultural tourism, especially temples, natural attractions, to craft tourism, such as weaving, ceramics, paper umbrellas, but the promotion is still weak,” said Daryono, business travel tourist.
(ERWIN EDHI PRASETYA)
This paper was published in Kompas Daily, Wednesday, August 24, 2016 with the title “Klaten District: Optimizing Village Potential”
PHOTOS: KOMPAS / FERGANATA INDRA RIATMOKO