Saturday, September 8, 2012

Sail Morotai expected to boost Northen Maluku`s tourism

The final preparations are under way for Sail Indonesia 2012, or Sail Morotai, which will be held in Indonesia`s northernmost island of Morotai from September 12-15.

Approximately 5,000 guests, including foreign sailors, are expected to attend the international maritime event. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is scheduled to inaugurate the Sail Morotai peak event at Daruba beach, Morotai island, on September 15.

Coordinating Minister for People`s Welfare Agung Laksono held a coordination meeting on Sail Morotai`s final preparations in Jakarta on September 4. Among the several ministers attending the meeting were Youth and Sports Minister Andi A Mallarangeng, Education and Culture Minister M Nuh, Tourism and Creative Economic Minister Mari Pangestu and Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Sharif C Sutardjo.

"The waters off Morotai island are home to some 191 species of fish, with a production capacity of 148,473.8 tonnes annually," he added.

The natural beauty of Morotai island, which is situated in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, is also expected to attract tourists.

The Sail Morotai organizing committee and the Morotai Island administration have jointly developed the necessary infrastructure and facilities in order to ensure the event`s success.

In addition to the several hotels in Ternate, the capital of North Maluku, hundreds of houses of local inhabitants have been renovated to provide home-stays for participants and guests of the event.

Well-equipped tents will also be set up by Indonesian military officers to accommodate guests and participants, because of the limited number of hotels on the island.

Accommodation arrangements in Tobelo, a neighbouring city in North Halmahera district, have also been made in anticipation of increased demand during the event. Transportation will be provided from Tobelo to Morotai.

Sriwijaya Air and Express Air will offer flights between Babullah Airport in Ternate and Pittu Trip airport in Daruba during the event.

Besides, according to a report from Taiwan news agency CNA, Indonesia will allow chartered flights from Taiwan to Morotai during the sailing event. A non-stop flight from Taipei to Morotai will take about three hours.

The Indonesian government suggested in 2010 that Taiwan take charge of the overall development of Morotai. The two countries have held talks on the issue several times since then.

Andrew Hsia, Taiwan`s representative to Indonesia, said the establishment of direct charter flights to Indonesia was necessary for Taiwan to develop Morotai island.

A total of 133 yachts from 22 countries taking part in Sail Morotai set sail from Darwin, Australia, on July 28. There were 47 yachts from Australia, 20 from the US, nine from Canada, eight from New Zealand, seven from the Netherlands, and six from England, among others.

The rally participants were divided into two teams, which would take two different routes to Indonesia. The eastern route would pass through Saumlaki, Banda, Buru, Ternate, Wakatobi and Takabonerate, while the western route would be through Kupang, Alor, Lembata, Ende, and Riung.

"In Sail Belitung, there was a chess game under the sea. In Sail Bunaken, a red-and-white flag was hoisted below the sea level. And now in Sail Morotai, we will present the underwater Soya-Soya dance," he added.

Sail Morotai 2012 is the latest in the series of annual international sailing events held by the Indonesian government since 2000, with different islands being selected each year as the venue of the race.

Sail Bunaken was held in North Sulawesi in 2009, while Sail Banda was organised in Maluku in 2010. Last year, Belitung island hosted Sail Wakatobi.(Antara)

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