Bangka island in Bangka-Belitung (Babel) province undeniably has marine tourism and historical attractions in abundance.
Having lush tropical forests and surrounded by crystal clear sea with white sandy beaches, Bangka island is another tourism destination in Indonesia.
After visitors have set foot on the pristine, beautiful beaches such as Parai, Pasir Padi, Sampur, and Matras beaches, returning to their hotels and accommodations will be a hard thing to do.
It is because of these abundant marine tourism and historical attractions that the Pangkalpinang city government is currently making every effort to develop them for both domestic and foreign tourists.
"Besides marine tourism, historical attractions also have a great potential to attract and increase the number of domestic and foreign tourists to visit the island," Pangkalpinang culture and tourism office spokesman Ahmad Elvian said in Pangkalpinang on Saturday.
The historical attractions on Bangka island, according to Ahmad, are among others Museum Timah (Tin Museum), Rumah Residen (Resident`s House), Dutch Cemetery, Perigi Pekasem (Pekasem Well), and Tugu Pergerakan Kemerdekaan (monument of independence movement).
"Meseum Timah used to be the house of Bangka Tin Winnig (BTW) workers, and the venue of meetings between Indonesian leaders and the Dutch government before the Roem-Royen conference," he said.
But Ahmad said the house at present had become the tin museum where visitors could learn about the history of tin mining in Indonesia.
Meanwhile, local Transportation, Culture and Tourism Office (Dishubudpar) spokesman Choirul Amri Rani said in Muntok, Bangka, recently that the Bangka Barat district administration was also currently developing three tourist objects in the area.
"With their appealing natural beauty, the three tourism objects, namely Batu Rakit Beach, Menumbing rest house, and Dendang Hot Springs are expected to attract a multitude of both domestic and foreign tourists," Choirul Amri Rani said.
According to him Batu Rakit Beach was potential enough to be developed into a family sport and recreational object.
"We have prepared the entertainment supporting facility at the beach for tourists and local community to enjoy," Choirul said, adding that the local government had also renovated the Menumbing Resthouse for tourists.
He said Menumbing rest house had historic value because the house used to be the residence of Bung Karno and Bung Hatta when they were exiled to Bangka island during the Dutch colonial era.
"Visitors can enjoy the original state of the house in a more comfortable atmosphere because we have renovated it," Choirul said.
According to him, the third tourism object in Bangka Barat was Dendang hot springs in Kelapa sub-district.
To introduce the three tourist objects, he said, the Bangka Barat district government would continue to make familiarization through photos and brochures.
"With continuous familiarization, we hope many domestic and foreign tourists will come to Bangka Barat," he added.
Therefore, Choirul also expressed hope that the local people would actively improve their creativity by creating various typical crafts for souvenirs in a bid to support tourism in their area.
"Dishubudpar has organized a souvenir creating competition but unfortunately the participants are still very few," Choirul said, hoping the local economy would improve following the promotion of the three tourism objects.
To support the tourism industry on Bangka island, Babel transportation office spokesman M Ilyas said the runway of Depati Amir airport in Pangkalpinang was being extended and expected to be completed at the end of this year.
"It is expected that the extension of the airport`s runway from 2,250 meters to 2,600 meters will be completed before the end of this year," Ilyas said.
He explained that after the extension of the runway, the Depati Amir airport would be at the same level of other airports in the country for Boeing 737-400 aircraft.
"With its 2,600-meter runway, the Depati Amir airport will be able to be landed by Air Bus planes," Ilyas said.
No wonder he said more tourists were expected to visit Bangka island.
He added that the local transportation office put the extension of the airport`s runway on top priority because it is located at the provincial capital.
"We will prioritize the development of Depati Amir airport but it does not mean that we ignore HAS Hanandjuddin airport in Tanjungpandang," he said.
According to Ilyas, the development of Depati Amir airport, popularly known as Pangkalpinang airport, was the responsibility of airport management company PT Angkasa Pura-II while the expansion of HAS Hanandjuddin airport in Tanjungpandang was the responsibility of air transportation department.
"The air transportation office will facilitate the development of the two airports in Bangka Belitung province to make them more adequate," he said.
Ilyas explained that as of 2008, the Depati Amir airport at the provincial city was far behind HAS Hanandjuddin airport in Tanjungpandang.
"As of 2008 the Depati Amir airport was far behind HAS Hanandjuddin airport in Tanjungpandang, and therefore Bangka Belitung transportation service office prioritized the development of Depati Amir in stages.