Indonesias East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) Province is gearing up to organize an international cycling race to promote sports tourism next May called "Tour de Flores" (TdF) in a bid to boost its tourism sector.
Dubbed as a sports tourism event, the TdF will take place on May 16-26, 2016, and will bring together some 230 world-class cyclists who once participated in international cycling races, such as the Tour de France in Paris and Tour de Langkawi in Malaysia.
Tourism Minister Arief Yahya who launched the TdF 2016 on Thursday evening stated that the activities were aimed at promoting NTTs Flores Island. It is one of the 10 tourism destinations in the country whose development is being accelerated by the government.
"We are calling this a sports tourism event. Its direct impact on the tourism sector is not too huge, but it has an effective media value. So, tourism destinations where the TdFs routes will pass will have brand value," the minister pointed out.
Arief explained that with its huge natural potential, the cycling race was the right event to be organized to promote the regions.
The TdF race will cover a route of 661.5 kilometers, divided into five laps from Larantuka-Maumere, Maumere-Ende, Ende-Bajwa, Bajwa-Ruteng to Ruteng-Labuan Bajo.
According to the NTT Tourism and Creative Economy Services Acting Head Welly Rame Rohimone, the event will have a significant impact on the development of the provinces tourism sector.
In order to support the activities, the regional government of NTT is now preparing several locations, which will become national tourism destinations, with the focus on infrastructure, hotels, and human resources. Thus, Flores will serve as a global tourism destination.
"Infrastructure is being developed to provide smooth access to hotels. Human resources are also being trained, so that they are aware of the importance of tourism and can provide fast and convenient services at the tourism attractions," he explained.
He affirmed that Flores, particularly Labuan Bajo, with its Komodo National Park, is one of the 10 main tourism destinations now being developed by the government.
Labuan Bajo serves as a gateway for the entry of foreign and domestic tourists to various other tourist destinations in NTT. Therefore, the preparations being made must focus on the main aspects of infrastructure, hotel facilities, health services, and human resources.
Moreover, the NTT Tourism Service is also popularizing Indonesias "Sapta Pesona Wisata" (Seven tourism enchanting) programs, stressing on effective and efficient promotions as a continuation to the promotion of the Komodo National Park as one of "The New Seven Wonders of Nature."
"This is intended to make NTT another gateway for tourists arriving in Indonesia apart from those such as Bali, West Nusa Tenggara, and the 10 island regions, which have been very popular so far," he stated.
He said the population of the giant komodo lizards (Varanus komodoensis) at the Komodo National Park is found on three islands: the Rica, Padar, and Komodo. These tourism destinations have attracted global attention for being home to an ancient species, which still survives until now.
"This potential is being utilized by organizing various national and international events as a bridge for NTT to become a flagship tourism destination. These events include the TdF, which has been divided into two main activities: the international cycling race and tourism. The tourism activities include visits to tourism sites, cultural events, bazaars, and folk festivities," he added.
NTT Tourism and Creative Economy Services Acting Head, Welly Rame Rohimone, acknowledged that Tour de Flores will have promote East Nusa Tenggara tourism.
"The annual international cycling race coupled with tourism activities can be effective in promoting the potential tourism destinations on the island," Welly affirmed on Thursday.
He noted that the TdF bearing the tagline "Explore the Amazing Land" would be held on May 16-26, 2016. Welly further added that the race will start in East Flores Districts Capital Larantuka and will end in West Manggarai Districts Capital Labuan Bajo.
The international cycling race, which was initiated by the local government and was launched by Minister of Tourism Arief Yahya on Thursday, will cover a distance of 661.5 kilometers.
The race will be divided into five laps from Larantuka in the eastern tip of Flores to Labuan Bajo in the western part of the island.
Therefore, Wellys office is supporting the activities of the TdF by providing various facilities to the participants who pass through certain points on the route, which will have a positive impact on the livelihood of the local people of Flores and tourism.
He remarked that some 230 world-class cyclists who once participated in international cycling races, such as the Tour de France in Paris, Tour de Langkawi in Malaysia, Tour de Singkarak in West Sumatra and Tour de Ijen in Banyuwangi of East Java will take part in the TdF event.
Based on the organizing committees agenda, before participating in the race, the athletes will be offered a tour of the various attractions such as whale catching in Lembata, and on conclusion of the event, the participants will be taken to Komodo Island.
"The participants of the TdF race comprise international cyclists who are members of the Union Cycliste Internationale or UCI (20 teams with 200 athletes), national athletes (2 teams with 20 members), and NTT cyclists (1 team with 10 members), thus the total number of participants reaches 230," he stated. (Antara)