Tourism is economic backbone of East Nusa Tenggara

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The Indonesian government has been paying greater attention to economic development in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) to help the province catch up with other regions that are more developed.

The development of a Special Economic Zone in NTT has been given priority, while Laboan Bajo has been designated as one of the countrys 10 top priority tourist destinations. 

Sports tourism activities, such as the Tour de Flores and Tour de Timor, are organized annually as part of the tourism program to promote NTT globally.

As a result, the number of foreign and domestic tourists visiting the province has increased from year to year, especially with the opening of more international routes for air transportation. 

Moreover, the contribution of the tourism sector to the economy of the province has exceeded those of other sectors.

Economic observer Dr James Adam has even claimed that the tourism sector has become a new economic backbone of NTT Province.

The tourism sector contributed Rp2 trillion to the gross domestic product of the province, with a population of 5.2 million in 2016, Adam had said in Kupang, NTTs capital, on Sept 22, 2017. 

"This means the tourism sector has become a new economic strength, with 80 thousand foreign tourists visiting the region in 2015, increasing to more than 100 thousand in 2016. It was a 20 percent increase, or exceeded the growth target of 10 percent," he pointed out.

Adam, a member of the International Fund for Agricultural Development for the empowerment of coastal people of NTT, made a statement on the tourist arrivals in the province and the impact on the regional economy and purchasing power of the local people.

"The parameter is clear. The numbers of visits by domestic and foreign tourists rose sharply, thereby making NTT known across the world," he added. 

Indeed, the number of tourist arrivals on Komodo Island, East Nusa Tenggara, has risen steadily and contributed to a significant increase in revenue.

Revenue from the tourism industry had exceeded the target set by the Komodo National Park Office, Sudiyono, head of the office, revealed here, Friday.

Until August this year, some 60-70 thousand tourists had visited the national park, he said.

During the period, the park had earned Rp19 billion from tourist visits, exceeding the target of Rp15 billion, he pointed out.

Last year, the park had earned Rp22 billion from a total of 90 thousand tourists visiting the park.

Several facilities and infrastructure, such as toilets, bridges, and sidewalks, are currently being built on several small islands under the supervision of the Komodo National Parks office.

The parks management has also organized a beach clean-up drive in cooperation with the World Wildlife Fund, the maritime affairs and fisheries office, and several non-governmental organizations.

In fact, revenue from tourism in Laboan Bajo, including Komodo Island, reaches Rp1 trillion per year, according to WWF Indonesia.

"This is the latest data that we have found, and it has occurred since 2016," WWF Labuan Bajo Coordinator Jansi Sartin stated on Sept 29, 2017.

The revenue has increased significantly since Komodo Island, the habitat of the Komodo dragon giant lizards, has become a major world tourism destination and icon, he noted.

Furthermore, NTT has promoted its tourist destinations by holding international interactive dialogs broadcast by Radio Verbum in the provincial capital of Kupang.

The routine interactive dialogs were held in English with audience from various countries, Marius Ardu Jelamu, head of the NTT tourism office, said.

The dialogs have been held twice, so far, and the response from potential tourists was quite enthusiastic, he revealed.

The first dialog held on August 17, 2017, drew responses from the audience in Chili, Italy, and Brazil, he noted.

Last week, another dialog took place with several youngsters in Mississippi, the US, he added.

"Their response was very positive, and thanks to the dialog, they said they wanted to visit Indonesia, particularly NTT, after we explained about our tourism resources during the dialog," he remarked.

Komodo National Park, home to Komodo dragon giant lizards, is located in Labuan Bajo.

In addition to utilizing the medium of radio, NTT has promoted its tourist resorts through television programs and exhibitions in the country and overseas.

With regard to the security aspect, the NTT Police will deploy personnel to guard the provinces iconic tourist attractions, such as Labuan Bajo and Komodo Island.

The deployment of police personnel aimed to ensure the safety of tourists visiting the islands, Inspector General Agung Sabar Santosa, head of the East Nusa Tenggara Police, was quoted as saying by Senior Commissioner Jules Abraham Abast, spokesman of the NTT Police in Kupang, on October 2, 2017.

"If the tourists feel comfortable while enjoying their stay in this regions tourist destinations, we believe that more tourists would come to visit, and as a result, it will help to boost the local economy," he explained.

The police officers will also monitor the waters of the islands by boats.(*)