Listed as the third contributor of foreign tourism destination in Indonesia after Bali and Jakarta, the Riau Islands Province is making every effort to develop marine tourism in order to attract more tourists and improve the local peoples welfare.
The province has long and white coastline stretches as far as the eyes can see, beautiful charm of undersea scenery, and a variety of water sports that will please the tourists visiting the area.
Local Tourism Office Chief Guntur Sakti has stated in the provincial city of Tanjungpinang that the Riau Islands Province, better known as Kepri, has marine tourism potential that has to be managed optimally.
Many beautiful islands in Kepri with marine tourism potential, according to him, must be developed properly in order to attract more domestic and foreign tourists.
Indonesia has marine tourism sites with great potentials, especially those in archipelago areas, but they have not been managed optimally.
Development in archipelago areas needs to be accelerated to improve the local peoples welfare, exploit the marine potentials and to maintain the life of people on remote islands as well as in border areas which serve as the countrys peripheral fortifications.
The development of maritime tourist attraction in Kepri is expected to increase tourism competitivenessi with foreign countries, especially those neighboring the region.
According to him, Kepri Governor Nurdin Basirun supports efforts to change the strategy of tourism from land towards the sea, as 96 percent of the provinces territory is waters.
Riau Islands offers white sandy beaches, big rocks, deep sea fishing and adventure sports, and undersea panorama of fish and coral reefs, but the potential has yet to be optimally tapped into.
Among the islands in Kepri, Batam receives the third largest number of foreign tourists, following Bali and Jakarta. However, most of them spend their time either shopping or playing golf, not enjoying marine tourist resorts.
Head of the Batam tourism service, Yusfa Hendri, noted that the authorities planned to develop the islands of Galang, New Galang and other surrounding islands to attract tourists.
These islands have beautiful coral reefs that prove to be a paradise for divers and people who like fishing and snorkeling as a hobby.
In addition, the Indonesian government also plans to develop the Natuna Islands District in Kepri and its surrounding areas into a new tourists destination.
"In line with the directives of the President, Natuna will be transformed into a new tourism destination," Indonesian tourism minister Arief Yahya remarked recently.
He stated that following President Joko Widodos visit to the region in June, the tourism minister would immediately follow up on the plan.
He promised that he would ensure that his officials immediately close ranks and work together to develop the countrys outermost region.
"I have asked the head of tourism service of the Riau Islands province, Guntur Sakti, to report the results of the Presidents visit to the deputy for development of tourism destinations to achieve synergy," he said.
Arief noted that Natuna Islands and their surrounding areas have the potential for tourism development, as these have maritime possibilities.
Therefore, he revealed that he planned to develop Natuna as a maritime tourism destination.
President Joko Widodo, during his visit to the region had ordered acceleration of development in Natuna as one of the front-line islands.
To achieve that, infrastructure development is needed. Better connectivity and economic development of sectors such as fishery industry, gas industry and tourism will help the area.
The government has acknowledged tourism as a vital sector and set it as one of the main priorities for the countrys economic and national development.
"We have been promoting Indonesias status as a world-class maritime country. This is important in supporting strategic sectors of the economy and politics, including our promising marine tourism products," Arief said.
Another strategy was one stop shopping that encourages the growth of investment in all sectors, including tourism.
This policy was intentionally prepared to anticipate the competition among South East Asian countries for ASEAN Economic Community that started in 2016.
Additionally, the Indonesian government has allocated a budget of almost US$200 million in order to support tourism promotional programs. This budget is intended to support the diversification and promotion effectiveness in larger markets.
The Ministry of Tourism, together with various tourism stakeholders, has prepared a variety of projects.
The ministry continues the marketing and promotion strategies with a focus on strengthening the positioning and branding of "Wonderful Indonesia" in its major market countries.
It aims to position Indonesia as "a wish list country" for world travelers.
To achieve this, the Ministry of Tourism massively holds worldwide marketing communication campaigns through the channels of international media, for example print, electronic, online and outdoor media such as buses, taxis, MRT, bus station, train, shopping centers with images of tourist destinations in Indonesia. (Antara)