West Papua is hoping to develop its tourism and to reach out to foreign tourism markets by building networks with the Balinese industry.
The West Papua tourism agency hosted on Monday an event in Sanur entitled Promoting the West Papua Tourism Potentials, to which it invited tour and travel agencies, as well as other Balinese tourism stakeholders.
“We came here to learn by building a network with this island‘s tourism businesspeople. We hope that Bali is willing to help promote our tourism,” said West Papua tourism agency head Edi Sumarwanto, while praising Bali as an international tourism destination.
Edi said that West Papua had major potential as an eco-tourism destination, because 70 percent of its region was still undeveloped, with around 60 percent of its territory part of a conservation area.
Edi also said that the West Papua region was rich with exotic culture and land and underwater biodiversity.
“We have around 43 species of birds of paradise, not to mention other types of birds, fish and sea vegetation,” said Edi.
Edi acknowledged that West Papua still lacked sufficient accommodation facilities.
In the region’s most developed regency, Raja Ampat, currently, there are seven resorts, 11 hostels and 36 homestays, while Manokwari, the West Papuan capital city, has 34 hotels, four of which are star-rated hotels.
Access to tourist destinations and limited infrastructure have been the major problem due to the long distance between one site and another, while its airport does not have proper lighting, thus only allowing daytime flights.
“We have requested the central government improve access to West Papua, including renovating the airport and providing direct flights from Bali,” said Edi,.
He stated that the national carrier, Garuda Indonesia, had not opened a route to Sorong, while other airlines had. Direct flights from Jakarta to Sorong are available, but from Bali, passengers have to transit in Makassar.
Inter-regency access relies on water transportation, such as ferry and speedboat.
Head of Raja Ampat tourism and cultural agency, Yusdi Lamatenggo, said that Raja Ampat, with its groups of islets and the stunning beauty found under its sea, is among the 10 national tourism strategic areas set by the Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry.
It has been proposed for listing among the seven wonders of the world.
The Association of Indonesian Tour and Travel Agencies (ASITA)’s head of destination and promotional affairs, Edi Sanyoto, acknowledged that West Papua was one of Indonesia’s great tourism attractions that was still to be properly developed.
He said he was ready to make a visit to West Papua to see for himself the destinations, besides Raja Ampat, that were worth promoting to foreign visitors.
Source: The Jakarta Post