Indonesian delegation and others visit Aspen | AspenTimes.com

Indonesian delegation and others visit Aspen

The Delegation of Tolikara Regency visited Aspen Thursday on their tour through Colorado.

Aspen Mayor Steve Skadron invited a group of 14 Indonesians to go skiing with him at a delegation visit presentation and luncheon Thursday.

The delegation from the Tolikara Regency in Indonesia's Papua province traveled halfway across the world to visit six cities in Colorado, Aspen being one of them.

Tolikara Regency Mayor Usman G. Wanimbo responded via a translator that he wished they could ski with Skadron, but that they are on a tight schedule.

On a bit more serious note, Skadron asked the delegation, "Why Aspen?"

Wanimbo said the conditions in the Tolikara Regency are geographically and demographically similar to Aspen's, and that they view the city of Aspen as an expert in community planning.

"We don't have a situation like this in our country," Wanimbo said, adding that it is extraordinary to visit Aspen. "We hope to get inspiration in our visit.

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The delegation was specifically interested in looking at Aspen's housing, planning, economic and environmental-sustainability programs, Assistant City Manager Randy Ready said.

At the luncheon, city staff gave presentations specific to these areas and discussed the economic development around Aspen's resort community.

There are several factors that contribute to Aspen's success as a resort town, Community Development Director Chris Bendon said before the group, including its recreational activity, high-quality dining and shopping and pedestrian-oriented community.

In a visit to the Aspen Recreation Center led by Community Relations Director Mitzi Rapkin, the group was so impressed that they requested blueprints.

During a walking tour of the city, the group of delegates enjoyed playing in the snowbanks around town, Skadron said.

They also expressed special interest in Aspen's ability to reach 100 percent renewable energy, he said.

While the number of delegations that visits Aspen varies each year, Ready estimated that "a couple to three" visit annually.

Within the past two months, three delegations have traveled to Aspen, including the Tolikara Regency.

In October, a delegation of 13 from Whistler, British Columbia, that was interested in studying Aspen's arts-and-cultural scene visited Aspen. Delegates from Aspen's newest Sister City, Abetone, Italy, visited in October, as well.

A delegation from Avon expressed interest in visiting Aspen soon, Skadron said, and a Park City, Utah, delegation that's talked of bringing as many as 75 people intends to visit Aspen in fall 2016.

Skadron said he is proud of Aspen's international recognition.

"We do a lot of things right, and the world notices," he said.

While the city of Aspen has discussed visiting other cities on delegation travel, Ready said, it's not something that's happened yet.

"It is a good idea," Ready said, adding that Aspen City Council members travel to other destinations in their roles as government officials.

Skadron said he visits other towns frequently because of his involvement with the Colorado Association of Ski Towns.

The Indonesia delegation departed from Jakarta, Indonesia's capital on the northwest coast of Java, and arrived in Denver on Sunday. The group toured Denver on Monday and met with the University of Colorado at Denver's College of Architecture and Planning.

On Tuesday, they visited Estes Park, and on Wednesday, traveled to Golden. Once the group leaves Aspen today, Colorado Springs and Castle Rock, respectively, are up next on its agenda.

The group will spend one night in each city and travel to Denver on Sunday before flying back to Jakarta on Monday.