The Indonesian government has continued to develop the countrys tourism sector in an effort to achieve its target of attracting some 20 million foreign tourists and earning an annual income of about US$4 billion by 2019.
As a maritime nation, Indonesia has huge potential in the marine sector, including marine tourism. Since 2009, it has been organizing annual Sail Indonesia events to boost tourism.
At present, one such sail race -- "Sail Karimata 2016" -- is underway in the Karimata Strait. The race, involving four neighboring provinces of Jambi, Riau Islands (Kepri), Bangka Belitung and West Kalimantan, started in June and will continue until October 2016.
A total of 15,000 local and foreign tourists are expected to attend the event, with tens of foreign yachters participating.
The peak event of the sail race will take place in North Kayong District, West Kalimantan, on October 15. Here, the government has predicted that foreign tourists will spend some $5 to 6 million (Rp66 billion), while Indonesian tourists will spend Rp10 billion ($740,000).
Although the peak event will be held in West Kalimantan Province, Sail Karimata will also help boost the economies of other provinces, such as Bangka Belitung, Jambi, and Riau Islands, which are involved in the boating race.
Riau Islands, or Kepri, for example, serves as the gateway for participants coming from Singapore. "Riau Islands will serve as Indonesias maritime gateway, and Sail Karimata is an event that will reinforce its status as that gate. We will see Riau Islands tourism destinations transformed from land to the maritime sector," said Guntur Sakti, head of Riau Islands Tourism Service.
Kepri will highlight the Sail Karimata event from October 20 to 29, 2016. Batam City Tourism Service Head Yusfa Hendri said his office will also invite yachters to visit popular tourist destinations such as Barelang bridge.
Organizers who come from various significant institutions in Kepri will hold marine festivals and other activities during the closing of Sail Karimata 2016 in the province.
Chief of Kepris Capital Investment Board Bulalimar led the preparatory meeting on Wednesday. He asked the organizing committee members to conduct their respective tasks in the best way so that the closing event, which would be attended by Vice President Jusuf Kalla, would be successful.
Kepri will organize the marine festivals from October 20 to 30. The peak of the event will take place on October 29, however, with three important items on the agenda. First, Hawk 100/200 jet fighters from the Air Force will perform a flyby; second, a paramotor (powered paraglider) show will be held at Kepris provincial capital Tanjungpinangs coastal area; and third, a ship parade will be launched in connection with the Carang River Festival, Bulalimar stated.
Meanwhile, tourist footfall in West Kalimantan is expected to increase during Sail Karimata. "We hope the arrivals of tourists during the peak event will increase by 40 per cent," Simplisius, head of West Kalimantan Tourism and Creative Economy Office, said in Pontianak, the provincial capital of West Kalimantan.
The Tourism Ministry has set a target of 5,000 foreign and 10,000 domestic tourist arrivals. The ministrys calculation shows that the sailing event could have a direct impact, in the form of income valued at Rp75 billion.
Based on early directives of President Joko Widodo (Jokowi), and in view of the fact that this is a tourism event, Sail Karimata 2016 should be organized in a way that enhances its economic value.
The main activities include a national seminar on maritime affairs in Jambi, the Belitung Festival on October 22, and the Riau Islands Maritime Festival on October 28.
The government hopes that Sail Karimata will have high economic value and transform the maritime sector into a primary contributor to the governments target of earning some US$4 billion in foreign exchange from the tourism sector by the year 2019.
Therefore, the government has so far held various sail events in Indonesia as it is convinced that these events have the potential to contribute to the tourism sector.
These events, categorized as marine tourism activities, have contribute only some 10 per cent of the total $1 billion worth of foreign exchange earned by the tourism sector.
Indonesias earnings from the tourism sector are still small compared to those of Malaysia, which earns some $8 billion.
"This is a challenge for us. Even if our projection of $4 billion by 2019 is realized, we will still be outclassed by Malaysia," Tourism Minister Arief Yahya had stated at the launch of the event in Jakarta on June 1.
The Sail Karimata is the eighth edition of Sail Indonesia, which was organized for the first time in 2009.
The previous sail events were Sail Bunaken, held in North Sulawesi in 2009; Sail Banda in Maluku in 2010; Sail Wakatobi-Belitung in Southeast Sulawesi and Bangka Balitung in 2011; and Sail Morotai in North Maluku in 2012, in addition to Sail Komodo in East Nusa Tenggara in 2013; Sail Raja Ampat in West Papua in 2014; and Sail Tomini, held in the provinces of Central Sulawesi and Gorontalo in 2015. (Antara)