Authorities Want to Limit the Number of Visitors at Borobudur Temple

Nadjamuddin Ramly, Director of Heritage and Cultural Diplomacy at Indonesia’s Ministry of Education and Culture, said authorities plan to limit the number of visitors that are allowed to enter the Borobudur Temple in Magelang (Central Java) to 15 people at one time. This move would relieve rising pressure on the structure of the ancient building. Currently, on weekends and holidays, hundreds of visitors enter the site, causing concern about the preservation of the temple that is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

Ramly declared to that studies conducted with UNESCO show that the preservation of Borobudur’s structure could only be assured with a maximum of 15 visitors allowed in at one time. The director told the website that authorities need to create a safety zone around the ancient temples of Borobudur, as well as Prambanan, to enhance the cleanliness of the areas. Many visitors litter the temple grounds with cigarettes, or even urinate at the sites. Particularly, there is a lack of understanding from Indonesian visitors who generally have low awareness over respecting environment in public spaces.

The temple has also been recently in the midst of a scandal originated by Thai energy drink manufacturer Red Bull. The company—that is well known for unruly behaviour in general, and whose owners are already tarnished by numerous scandals—shot a video commercial at Borobudur without having obtained the necessary permits from authorities. In the ad an athlete jumps along the walls,performing acrobatic movements along the precious, centuries-old bas reliefs. Authorities spoke about the potential physical damage to the structure of the temple that this might cause. The incident caused a major outrage in Indonesia, but proved that Borobudur lacks proper monitoring and sufficient security staff.

This explains why the total number of travellers should be restricted, and why more guards need to be appointed to monitor tourists at the historical sites. However, the severe restriction on total numbers climbing to the top of the temple might generate new management problems, such as long queues to enter the temple itself. Another problem that authorities need to think about before implementing any new restrictive measures.