Indonesia: N. Sulawesi to focus on marine tourism

Lita Aruperes The Jakarta Post 14 May 16;

North Sulawesi has pledged to focus on the marine sector in developing tourism in the province, as 13 out of the 15 regencies/cities in the region have sea territories and diving spots.

Head of North Sulawesi Tourism Agency, Happy Korah, said that another tourist attraction in need of infrastructure improvement were waruga ( old thumbs )

“Our target is Bunaken, which is also a national target,” said Happy, adding that Bunaken was popular among foreign tourists, although the site was not well managed.

Bunaken Marine National Park ( TNLB ) is a conservation area covering 89,065 hectares, of which 16.85 square-kilometers is located in Manado city, the provincial capital. The area is known for its high biodiversity, one among the world’s highest, with 20 diving spots. It has three main ecosystems of tropical waters, namely coral reefs, mangroves and seagrass.

Happy said that in developing the province’s tourist industry, his agency would need to work with other agencies, such as the transportation agency for infrastructure improvement and public works agency for improvements to transportation and traffic facilities.

He also said that President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo had ordered the public works and transportation agencies to build infrastructure, especially those heading to tourist sites.

“When infrastructure is good, tourism can also be developed. When everything is good, many tourists will for sure come,” Happy said on Thursday, while adding that his agency has set a target of receiving 40,000 to 50,000 tourists this year as compared to last year’s 36,000.

Head of the North Sulawesi Public Works Agency, JE Kenap, said his side was ready to develop infrastructure to support tourism. A similar commitment was also expressed by North Sulawesi Transportation Agency head Joy Oroh.

Joy said improvements, for example, had been made in the management of passenger facilities at Sam Ratulangi Airport, where the runway had been extended from 250 to 450 meters.

Improvements, Joy said, had as well been made in the island region. “Almost every island in the region now has piers of 50 to 100 m, so passengers won’t get wet when they get off the ships,” Joy said.

North Sulawesi Governor Olly Dondokambey said he had proposed for new pioneered ships to the Transportation Ministry, to be operated in the island region.

“Additional units are needed so transportation on remote islands can be accommodated,” he said.

Meanwhile, chairman of the North Sulawesi branch of the Association of Indonesian Hotels and Restaurants ( PHRI ), Jhony Lieke, said that 30 star-rated hotels in the province were ready to accommodate tourists. Yet, he said, training was needed to further improve human resources.

Another practitioner in the tourist industry, Peggy Adeline Mekel, echoed Jhony’s statement, saying that employers needed to catch up with existing developments and provide better services to visiting tourists.

General manager of national flag carrier Garuda Indonesia’s Manado branch office, Dedy Irawan, also expressed his readiness to support local administrations’ programs in the tourism sector.

“We plan to open a direct route connecting China and Manado,” Dedy said, adding that the plan might be realized in 2017 or 2018.

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