People in some areas in Indonesia such as Halmahera, Palangkaraya, Sampit, Balikpapan, Bangka, Belitung, and Palembang on March 9 will have the rare opportunity to witness the total solar eclipse, but it will last longer in Central Sulawesi.
For a few minutes, up to 98 percent of the sun will be hidden from the view in those areas, when the moon entirely covers the sun, leaving the suns radiant corona shining behind it like a crown in a matter of minutes.
"But people in Central Sulawesi are fortunate to witness it longer as it will cross the sky over the districts of Sigi, Donggala, Palu, Luwuk, Parigi Moutong, Tojo Unauna, and Poso," Central Sulawesi Governor Longki Djanggola remarked in the provincial capital of Palu on Sunday.
The governor noted that the people and thousands of tourists will have an opportunity to watch when the sun darkens to sky over those districts during the day.
Djanggola then affirmed that the local government officials and the residents have been ready to welcome, to serve, and to protect foreign tourists visiting the province to witness this rare but very interesting natural phenomenon.
He said that besides foreign tourists, observers from Indonesian Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG), South Korea, and Jakarta Amateur Astronomy Association will come to Central Sulawesi to observe the total solar eclipse.
"Therefore, we have designed and prepared a number of performing arts and cultural activities to entertain the visitors," Governor Djanggola affirmed.
Further, he added that all districts to be traversed by the total solar eclipse are already coordinating with the provincial government related to their readiness.
As the host, the governor said the local government must protect all the local and foreign tourists who will come to Central Sulawesi.
He said there had been no reports of any foreign embassy of its citizens who want to cancel their visit to Central Sulawesi.
Djanggola said the momentum of this natural phenomenon occurs only once in decades or even hundreds of years.
Accordingly, a number of hotels in Central Sulawesi are ready to welcome the arrival of domestic and international tourists to observe the rare and beautiful phenomenon.
"It has been a year since we have been preparing to welcome the tourists who will come from different countries to witness the total solar eclipse in some areas of Central Sulawesi province," Santika Hotel General Manager Alain John Siwy remarked in Palu recently.
Santika Hotel is very supportive, and hopes that the tourists, especially from different countries, will get what they want while in the province, he said.
"The main purpose of foreign tourists is to witness the total solar eclipse that will last for only a few minutes, but they dare to spend with a sizeable amount," John noted.
Furthermore, the local government must provide and create a sense of security and comfort so that the tourists can enjoy what they desire, he added.
Numerous tourist attractions in Central Sulawesi have been prepared for the visit of tourists while they are in the province, according to him.
Many hotels in Palu and Poso have been ready to welcome the foreign guests, and some 150 of them have confirmed their stay at the Santika Hotel, John noted.
Around three thousand tourists from 12 countries have confirmed their visit to the province to witness the solar eclipse, the head of the Central Sulawesi Tourism Office, Siti Norma Mardjanu, stated.
"This large number of foreign tourists will be accommodated in the hotels available in Palu and Poso, while some of them will stay in homes of local residents," Mardjanu said.
The local administration will conduct promotional activities regarding the total solar eclipse at numerous international airports in Indonesia, she noted.
The promotional activities highlighting the total solar eclipse will be carried out at the international airports in Medan, Jakarta, Surabaya, and Makassar, Mardjanu remarked.
The promotion will not only spread awareness about the total solar eclipse but will also promote the tourism potential of Central Sulawesi, according to her.
Currently, approximately three thousand hotel rooms have been booked by foreign tourists, who want to witness the rare phenomenon in Palu, Luwuk, Ampana, and Poso.
The total solar eclipse is expected to attract thousands of tourists, and therefore, it will motivate the local administration to develop its local tourism potential.
A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the earth and Sun. A total solar eclipse occurs when the moons apparent diameter is larger than the suns, blocking all direct sunlight, turning day into darkness.
The total eclipse in March 2016 will occur in the narrow path across the earths surface, with the partial solar eclipse visible over a surrounding region that is thousands of kilometers wide, beginning in Indonesia, and ending in the northern Pacific Ocean.(*)