Maritime festival, a vivacious event in Riau Islands

Indonesia, a maritime country with two thirds of its territory as waters, continues to develop its provinces, including the Riau Islands which is currently now holding a vivacious maritime festival.

The festival is officially called Festival Bahari Kepri 2016, or the Maritime Festival of Riau Islands 2016.

Under the Sail Indonesia program, the government is introducing the Riau Islands, expected to become the hub of maritime tourism since the provinces 95 percent area comprises waters. 

Considered the second gateway for foreign tourists after Bali, the province is just the right place to hold such an enchanting maritime festival.

The festival is part of the Sail Karimata 2016 aimed at promoting the tourism potentials of four provinces, including the Riau Islands which also offers traditional cuisines including local sea foods.

The festival features 15 activities including dragon boat race, culinary festivities, cultural attractions, sky lantern festivities, diplomatic tours, traditional and modern games, seminars on tourism as well as investment forums on maritime tourism.

Dragon Boat Race

Tens of dragon boat teams from other provinces and different countries are participating in the International Dragon Boat Race in the Riau Islands capital of Tanjungpinang.

Deputy to the Tourism Minister for the Development of Foreign Tourism Marketing, I Gde Pitana, recently said at the opening ceremony of the International Dragon Boat Race that the event is the best way to augment peoples income through tourism. 

Various studies have proven that by 2018, tourism will be the largest source of foreign exchange compared to other sectors, he noted.

Pitana pointed out that Tanjungpinang has the potential to be the western gateway to Indonesias tourism world. 

"We believe the Dragon Boat Race can turn Tanjungpinang into a tourist destination because it helps showcase nature, culture and creativity of its human resources," he explained, adding that its proximity to markets in Singapore and Malaysia is also a very profitable factor.

Pitana greatly appreciated the foreign participants and asserted that the dragon boat race was not just a sports competition but can help strengthen friendly relations and cooperation among nations.

The event, that witnessed participation of at least 400 players from foreign countries including Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore as well as hundreds of various provinces in Indonesia, was held for three days from October 21 to 23, 2016.

Tanjungpinang Mayor Lis Darmansyah said the race took place on the Carang River which has a long history of Malay culture.

The river is an asset of Tanjungpinang that should be preserved and exploited in order to reap benefits for the people, especially through the tourism sector, he argued.

Meanwhile, Riau Islands Provincial Secretary Arif Fadillah claimed the Dragon Boat Race has inspired several other regions in Indonesia to hold a similar event.

Incidentally, the Czech Republic has been holding a Dragon Boat Race since 2009 named after Tanjungpinang, he added.

Arif explained that the Tanjungpinang City administration had presented two dragon boats, named Gurindam and Pantun, several years ago to the government of the Czech Republic. 

He hoped that the race will encourage similar maritime sports events elsewhere.

"The Dragon Boat Race is organized to preserve the traditions nurtured by our ancestors. There should be attractive packages to lure more travelers," he stressed.

For those who want to enjoy local arts and cultural performances, the organizers have prepared a Poet Stage, a Decorative Car Parade, a Cultural Parade, an event called Sound from Motherland of Malay, Sei Carang Ornamental Boat, and the Riau Islands Carnival.

The festival will also be enlivened by a fly past by Indonesian National Air Force Hawk 100/200 fighters, a Sky Lantern show and Diplomatic Tours.

With these excitements, the government and people expect Riau Islands to become a Maritime Tourism Gateway of Indonesia.

Readiness

On its way to become a marine tourism gateway of the largest archipelagic country in the world, the Riau Islands is now very accessible. The province with its 1.9 million people is close to five international airports.

In Batam, one of the fastest growing economy cities and very close to Singapore and Malaysia, is the Hang Nadim International Airport with the longest runway in Southeast Asia.

Four other world-class airports are Raja Haji Fisabilillah in Tanjungpinang, Sei Bati in Karimun, Ranai in Natuna, Dabo in Dabo Singkep (Lingga) and Matak in Matak (Anambas Islands).

In addition, another new airport will be built in North Bintan which be spread over an area of 170 hectares.

Indeed, Riau Islands will be more boisterous, crowded and bustling with businesses, trade and economic activities including those related to the maritime tourism industry.(Antara)



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