(Updated at 11.02 p.m. on Sunday, to add Obama quote)
Jakarta. Former United States President Barack Obama reflected on his Indonesian holiday during a speech at the 4th Congress of the Indonesian Diaspora at the Kota Kasablanka mall in South Jakarta on Saturday (01/07), praising the natural and cultural beauty of Indonesia.
He also reflected on his visits to Buddhist temple Borobudur in Magelang, Central Java, and Hindu temple Prambanan in Yogyakarta, saying that Indonesia has a long history of tolerance proven by how those temples have been preserved in the Muslim-majority country.
He encouraged Indonesians to maintain their spirit of tolerance, which is "symbolized by mosques and temples and churches beside each other."
"If you are strong in your own faith, then you should not be worried about someone else's faith," Obama said, as quoted by voanews.com.
In an official statement from the Tourism Ministry, Tourism Minister Arief Yahya said Obama's speech was important for Indonesian tourism because he effectively gave his endorsement to two of the country's major tourist destinations.
He praised the Indonesian Diaspora Network Global for hosting the congress and inviting Obama.
"The more celebrities and high-profile names visiting Indonesia, the better it is [for tourism], especially by presenting Obama who is now our 'endorser,'" Arief said.
Indonesia is the first Asian country Obama visited after his presidency ended. Obama also said in his speech that Indonesia is still a part of him.
Arief said Obama's good impression of Indonesia, coupled with his popularity in social media — with over 91 million followers on Twitter, should do quite a bit to boost tourism in the country.