Jakarta (ANTARA News) - As the capital of the ancient Malay kingdom of Sriwijaya, which influenced much of Southeast Asia, Palembang was an important trade center in the region for more than a millennium.
The kingdom controlled international trade through the Malacca Straits, from the seventh to 13th centuries, establishing hegemony over polities in Sumatra and the Malay Peninsula.
Sanskrit inscriptions and Chinese travelogues report that the kingdom prospered as an intermediary in the international trade between China and India.
Based on the Kedukan Bukit inscription found in the Siguntang Hill, Palembang was established on June 16, 688, making it the oldest city in Indonesia. Since then, the citys anniversary is celebrated on this day. On June 17, 2017, the city turned 1,334 years old.
Palembang regained popularity when it had co-hosted the SEA Games in 2011 along with Jakarta.
Having succeeded in co-hosting the biennial multi-sport event in Southeast Asia, Palembang was again tasked with co-hosting the 2018 Asian Games with Jakarta after Vietnam withdrew in 2014 due to financial problems.
As a co-host of the pan-Asian multi-sport event, Palembang will be flooded with both domestic and foreign tourists when the Asian Games is held from Aug 18 to Sept 2 next year.
Although it is not listed among the top 10 tourist destinations in Indonesia, Palembang has several tourist sites that are worth visiting.
One of the tourist sites is the Ampera Bridge. It is a vertical-lift bridge, which connects Seberang Ulu and Seberang Ilir, both in Palembang. However, it can no longer be opened to allow ships to pass.
The Battle of Palembang is also an interesting place to visit. It was a battle of the Pacific theatre of World War II near Palembang on February 13-15, 1942.
With abundant fuel supply and an airfield, Palembang offered a significant potential as a military base to both the Allied Force and Japan at that time.
The next interesting tourist site is the Great Mosque of Palembang. The mosque is also known as Sultan Mahmud Badaruddin I Great Mosque named after the former Sultan of Palembang.
The mosque is the largest in South Sumatra and the third-largest in Sumatra after the Grand Mosque of West Sumatra and Great Mosque of Pekanbaru.
The other attraction is the Musi River, which divides the city into two: Seberang Ilir in the north and Seberang Ulu in the south. Seberang Ilir is Palembangs economic and cultural centre, while Seberang Ulu is the seat of the South Sumatra provincial government.
In addition, the city is developing several new tourist destinations, such as the colorful floating villages on the banks of Musi River, Sekanak Kerihin resort, Tugu Belido tower, and Sudirman Walk venue. The others are nuanced rural tourism in locations, such as the Al Munawar Village and Kapitan Village.
To help tourists during the 2018 Asian Games, the government of South Sumatra Province will facilitate easier access to tourism services through the establishment of numerous tourism information centers in the province.
The tourism information centers will be set up at strategic locations to provide information to travelers keen on visiting various tourist attractions in the area, according to South Sumatra Culture and Tourism Office Chief Irene Camelyn Sinaga.
"Thus, the information centers will help tourists to get information about tourist attractions and the typical regional cuisine, including shopping, in a faster and easier manner" Sinaga remarked here on Nov 18.
The Palembang city government has set a target to attract 2.1 million domestic tourists and 12 thousand foreign tourists this year.
To achieve the target, the city government has taken several steps, including upgrading infrastructure at the existing tourist destinations in the face of the 2018 Asian Games, which will bring together around 10 thousand athletes from 45 countries to compete in 40 sports.
Over the past three years, the central government has also lent full support to the Palembang city administration to prepare its supporting infrastructure, such as the 22-kilometer-long Light Rail Transit (LRT) transportation facility, which is now 75 percent complete.
The LRT project, worth around Rp10.9 trillion, will pass through 13 stations along the route from the Sultan Mahmud Badaruddin II airport to the Jakabaring Sport City.
The LRT system passing on the left side of the iconic Ampera Bridge is expected to become operational before the 2018 Asian Games.
The first phase of the 23-kilometer-long toll road from Palembang to Indralaya (Ogan Komering Ilir) was completed and inaugurated by President Joko Widodo in October.
In the meantime, Judi Rifajantoro, the tourism ministers special staff, had remarked early this month that the tourism information centers will be opened respectively at the Sultan Mahmud Badaruddin II Airport, Bentek Kuto Besak, and Jakabaring Sport City to provide assistance to tourists visiting the city and province.
According to Rifajantoro, the tourism information centers will serve as a medium to promote "Wonderful Indonesia" during the international sporting event of the 2018 Asian Games in Palembang and Jakarta.
Source: ANTARA News