After a successful Sail Bunaken 2009 in Manado, North Sulawesi, the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry will organize a similar international event in Banda, Central Maluku, next year.
To be called Sail Banda 2010, the event would be the brainchild of Maritime and Fisheries Minister Freddy Numberi, Alex Retraubun, director general of coastal area and small island affairs at the maritime and fisheries ministry, said.
"The Banda Islands are known worldwide for their historical significance and undersea natural beauty, and therefore Maluku will host Sail Banda 2010," Retraubun said in the eastern Indonesian city of Ambon recently.
Banda is known as the original and only source of the once precious spices, nutmeg and mace, trade commodities that had a significant impact on world developments in the 15th century.
Early European reports described the tropical Banda Islands as a jewel-like cluster surrounded by crystal waters and brilliant coral reefs, and the most beautiful cluster of islands in Maluku.
Banda is made up of eleven small volcanic islands namely
Neira, Gunung Api, Banda Besar, Rhun, Ai, Hatta, Karaka, Manukan, Nailaka, Syahrir and Batu Kapal.
Syahrir island or formerly known as Pisang Island, and Batu Kapal Island which combine well for a morning dive, a picnic on the beach, and an afternoon dive are just 20 minutes by boat from the hotels on the town of Banda Neira.
All those Banda islands offer stunning tropical scenery, a remarkable history, friendly villages, and some of the globe`s most pristine, biologically diverse corral reefs which are good for that international event later next year.
Therefore members of Sail Banda 2010 international committee from various maritime countries will soon arrive to survey three locations in Maluku for consideration as the event`s venue.
Maluku provincial administration`s communication and information spokesman, Bakrie Lumbessy said in Ambon recently that the committee members would in the near future survey three locations, namely Lucipara islands in the Banda Sea, Banda Islands, and a diving site in Southwest Maluku district.
"Soon the international committee of Sail Banda 2010 will visit Maluku to survey the three locations in the province," Lumbessy said.
He said the same committee had successfully organized the Sail Bunaken event in
North Sulawesi which was participated in by hundreds of sail boats and yachts from various countries last August.
According to Lumbessy, all the three locations for the Sail Banda 2010 offer undersea panoramas featuring many coral reefs and ornamental fish.
"Especially for an undersea flag raising ceremony, it will be conducted in one of the outlying islands in Southwest Maluku district," Lumbessy said referring to Wetar, Kisar, Romang, or Maupora islands.
He said Sail Banda 2010 was scheduled to run from July 27 to August 28, 2010 and to be participated in by hundreds of sail boats and yachts from various countries around the world.
The Banda Sea which is known to have the deepest basin in the world also had areas abounding in colorful coral reefs and ornamental fish on which visitors could feast their eyes.
Banda islands also had various cultural tourist spots and famous historic sites that had been named by UNESCO as one of the world`s cultural heritages.
The Maluku provincial administration`s information and communication office had also asked for the active role of the press in the province and all elements of the public to jointly make Sail Banda 2010 a success.
Meanwhile, the national shipping company PT Pelni is also ready to help make the Sail Banda 2010 event a success by putting more ships into service on its route to the Banda Islands in Central Maluku, a spokesman said.
Bachtiar, head of PT Pelni`s Ambon branch office, said in Ambon that the national shipping company felt it bore the moral responsibility to support the international maritime event in Banda.
"The exact date of Sail Banda 2010 has actually yet to be confirmed but we at PT Pelni are ready to help make the event a success," Bachtiar said.
He said the company was currently operating MV Ciremai and MV Kelimutu on its route to Banda in Central Maluku, Tual in Southeast Maluku, and a number of ports in West Papua and Papua.
Asked if the number of ships for Banda would be increased in the runup to Sail Banda 2010, Bachtiar said it was the responsibility of PT Pelni`s head office to decide.
"But because Sail Banda 2010 is an international event, I think there will be a good coordination between the transportation ministry and PT Pelni to increase the number of ships sailing to Banda," Bachtiar said.
Meanwhile, Maluku Culture and Tourism Office spokesperson Florence Sahusilawane said Sail Banda 2010 is expected to reflect an international shipping expedition.
She said the international event is being designed by adopting the past period of "hongitochten", punitive expeditions conducted by the Dutch to suppress uprisings in Seram, particularly in the clove-rich peninsula of Hoamoal and nearby islands with traditional boats.
Therefore, Sahusilawane called on villages across Maluku which have typical traditional boats to take part in and liven up the Sail Banda 2010.
She said the promotion of Sail Banda 2010 would not be very difficult because Banda islands had been known worldwide since the past as spice islands, and even UNESCO has named the islands one of the world heritages.
Maluku Governor Karel Albert Ralahalu said recently that some 150 sail boats from
various countries had been registered to take part in Sail Banda 2010.
"I met Culture and Tourism Minister Jero Wacik in Jakarta recently and he said about 150 sail boats have signed up for the international maritime event in Maluku next year," the governor said.