Raja Ampat to See More Tourists

JAKARTA ~

Many more domestic and foreign tourists will love every minute of it when they visit Raja Ampat district in West Papua this year and beyond after the implementation of Sail Raja Ampat 2014.

During the last five years, the governments of Raja Ampat district and West Papua Province have been heavily promoting the area.

As a result, Raja Ampat Tourism and Creative Economy Department Chief Hasnawati said, in the district town of Waisai over the weekend that the number of foreign and domestic tourists visiting the district continues to increase every year.

She noted that in 2010, only 3,855 tourists came to Raja Ampat, but due to intensive promotion the number increased sharply to 11,130 in 2013.

“Now, the Raja Ampat district government has set itself a target to attract 20,000 tourists, and we believe the target can be reached following the international marine event, Sail Raja Ampat,” Hasnawati remarked.

She noted that the governments of West Papua and Raja Ampat district have completed all preparations for Sail Raja Ampat, which is to be opened by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on August 23, 2014.

In an effort to attract even more tourists to visit Raja Ampat, Hasnawati said the central government should help the governments of West Papua province and Raja Ampat district improve the quality of infrastructure, among other things by extending the runway of Waisai airport from 1,200 meters to a minimum of 1,400 meters.

She added that Waisai airport is only able to receive two flights per week from Sorong city, but in 2015 the airport is expected to accommodate more direct flights from Makassar, Manado, Ternate, and Ambon.

The international marine event, Sail Raja Ampat, was originally scheduled for June 2014, but was later postponed until August 23.

Yet it was due to the hard work and determination of West Papua Governor Abraham Octavianus Atururi that the event will finally take place on August 23.

“I have met with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to discuss Sail Raja Ampat, for we are optimistic that the event must surely go on,” Atururi said.

The former Sorong district head, who was also Papua deputy governor from 1996-2000, continued to maintain communications and coordination with those parties directly involved in Sail Raja Ampat.

The West Papua governor pointed out that the local organizing committee in Waisai has completed all supporting infrastructure and facilities to assure the success of the event.

Hotels and accommodations in Sorong city and Raja Ampat district have been made ready for guests and participants of the festival. Even sea transportation is being prepared to serve the participants and guest from Sorong to Raja Ampat.

Under the theme, “Building the Maritime, Bringing Raja Ampat to World Tourism”, Sail Raja Ampat will be held in Waisai Torang Cinta beach at Waisai City.

The name Raja Ampat (four kings) was derived from a tale taking place in Kaliraja hamlet at Kabui Bay, in which a married couple found seven dragon eggs at the Waikeo riverbank.

After the husband and wife found the eggs, they took them home and stored them in a room. But at midnight they heard whispering.

Shocked, they traced the sounds and found four boys and two girls in fine dress, as if they were of royal descendants, had hatched from six of the seven dragon eggs.

Later, one of the girls moved to Biak and the other to Fakfak, while the four boys settled on the major islands of Batanta, Salawati, Waigeo, and Misool.

Together with some 600 smaller islands, these four major islands were ruled by the four boys as kings and now the islands are called the Raja Ampat archipelago, in the district of Raja Ampat.

On May 9, 2003, Raja Ampat was expanded from Sorong district in West Papua and became an autonomous district.

Made up of approximately 610 islands with a length of 753 km of coastline, Raja Ampat district is situated in the western island of Papua island.

The center of Raja Ampat administration is located in the city of Waisai on Waigeo island.

In 2007, Raja Ampat District was declared a maritime district by the Indonesian minister of maritime affairs and fisheries.

The islands of Raja Ampat were visited by several European explorers in the nineteenth century.

Diving activities began in Raja Ampat in the early 1990s, but the area remained relatively unknown until after 2000.

Attracted by reports of biological diversity in the Raja Ampat Islands, several world conservation organizations began conducting research in 2002.

The survey results have determined that Raja Ampat is home to at least 537 species of coral, with 75 percent of all coral species known in the world, as well as at least 1,074 fish species.

Thanks to these discoveries, Raja Ampat has been declared the center of the world Coral Triangle, with the greatest biodiversity found in the world.

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