Indonesia: Tourists to Raja Ampat must pay additional fee

Otniel Tamindael Antara 26 Apr 17;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Local as well as foreign tourists visiting the tourism attractions of Raja Ampat in West Papua Province are required to pay an additional fee for environmental maintenance services.

Raja Ampat district government has determined that every tourist is obliged to pay an environmental maintenance service fee of Rp500 thousand for local tourists and Rp1 million for foreign tourists per person.

The money will be used to finance local people who are in charge of maintaining the cleanliness of the environment and marine ecosystems in the tourist destinations islands.

Raja Ampat comprises of four big islands and hundreds of dots and specks off the fragmented western corner of the land of Papua, the worlds second largest island.

According to the head of Raja Ampat Regional Public Service Board for Water Conservation Area, Adrian Yusuf, the local government has tightened its supervision to track tourists visiting the islands without paying the environmental service fees.

The supervision is tightened in the waters which become the main route of tourists visiting the islands by speed boats directly from the city of Sorong.

Recently, there are travel agents who use speedboats to transport their guests from the City of Sorong directly to the tourist islands without stopping at the Raja Ampat district town of Waisai to pay the fee.

"Hence, every tourist who uses speedboat from Sorong City to visit Raja Ampat must stop at Waisai to pay the fee before heading to the tourist destinations," Yusuf remarked in Sorong on Tuesday.

In order to increase supervision, the local government will build security and service payment posts on every island of the tourist destination, he said.

In addition to supervising the tourists, the local government will also oversee the community activities in conservation areas to prevent undersea ecosystem damage.

The Indonesian archipelago of Raja Ampat is known to be the most bio-diverse habitat on earth and is considered an ideal destination for both local and foreign tourists to relax and unwind.

Hence, the government is implementing a sustainable tourism development program in Raja Ampat. To make the program work, the human resources in the local community must be improved.

According to Ranny Iriani, Raja Ampat Tourism Offices local partner for sustainable tourism development, the local communities must be empowered to help them preserve the natural resources and environmental sustainability there.

Situated in the Coral Triangle, which stretches from the Philippines to Timor and extends to Papua, Raja Ampat has three quarters of the worlds coral varieties, 10 times that of the Caribbean.

The high-definition visibility means that in one glance, without having to swim a stroke, visitors can see a multitude of corals resembling Murano vases or bunches of baby corn, marbled plumbing fittings, peanut brittle, cobwebs, and an oversized cabbage patch.

Visitors to Raja Ampat can witness a multitude of marine habitats and coral reefs at one glance without having to swim a stroke.

Therefore, public awareness on maintaining the cleanliness in the sea and avoid catching fish using hazardous materials must be increased, so that the beautiful natural wealth is not damaged and can be enjoyed by the visitors and the next generation, remarked Iriani.

In addition to improving the tourism infrastructure and facilities in Raja Ampat, Iriani maintained that the central and local governments should encourage the local communities to communicate and serve the visitors in a friendly and courteous manner.

"If the local communities are empowered to serve the visitors in a friendly and courteous manner, the development of sustainable tourism in Raja Ampat will be realized and maintained for generations in the future," she asserted.

Raja Ampats natural potential and culture are beautiful and unique. Therefore, the local people must be encouraged to improve their work ethics and adopt clean habits to attract even more local and foreign tourists, she added.

Most visitors arrive in Raja Ampat through Sorong, a city on the far west coast of Papua, which has an airport, army barracks, and a karaoke bar called Happy Puppy.

In less than two hours from Sorong, the visitors can reach Raja Ampat, where they can indulge in activities such as swimming, diving, and snorkeling, or just relax.

Raja Ampat is home to a multitude of attractions and experiences.

With thousands of people visiting Raja Ampats marine and natural attractions, visitors can skip the crowds and experience it all.

Every day, many tourists from different countries go to Raja Ampat, where they can enjoy not only the beautiful marine biodiversity but also the scenic beaches and gain local insights into its history.

In terms of historic relevance, the Raja Ampat Archipelago, in the 15th century, was part of the reign of Tidore Sultanate, a great kingdom centered in Maluku Islands.

To run its government, the Sultanate of Tidore appointed four local kings to rule the islands of Waigeo, Batanta, Salawati, and Misool, which are the fourth largest until this day.

The term "Four Kings" who ruled the islands became the basis for the name Raja Ampat, which comprises some 610 islands, with a total length of 753 kilometers of coastal line.

Foreign tourists visiting Raja Ampat are enthralled by its beauty found nowhere else in the world.(*)