Total solar eclipse momentum to boost Indonesia`s tourism industry

The forthcoming TSE is considered very rare as it is believed that another total solar eclipse will return only after a century, though some say in the next 350 years.
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Indonesia is the starting point and the best spot to watch a total solar eclipse (TSE) that will occur on the morning of March 9, 2016.

A TSE happens when the Moon comes between the Sun and the Earth and casts the darkest part of its shadow (the umbra) on Earth. During a total eclipse of the Sun, a Supermoon, which is a full Moon or a new Moon at its closest point to Earth, covers the entire disk of the Sun.

The forthcoming TSE is considered very rare as it is believed that another total solar eclipse will return only after a century, though some say in the next 350 years.

Being the major path of totality, Indonesia will be eager to use the momentum for the extraordinary and spectacular natural phenomenon to boost its tourism industry, by luring as many foreign tourists, scientists and astronomy lovers, as possible to watch from its islands.

The TSE will be visible for some two to three minutes in 45 cities and districts in 12 provinces across Indonesia.

The 12 Indonesian provinces are Bengkulu, West Sumatra, South Sumatra, Jambi, Bangka Belitung, West Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan, South Kalimantan, East Kalimantan, West Sulawesi, Central Sulawesi, and North Maluku.

The Indonesian government, however, will organize the main TSE event in the Bangka Belitung Province, where most of its waters lie in the path of the eclipse.

Thanks to the promotional activities conducted by the central and regional governments, as well as the private sector, the tourism industry is expected to reap the benefits.

All hotel rooms in Bangka Belitung (Babel) Province have been fully booked by tourists and scientists keen to watch the TSE.

Thousands of domestic and foreign tourists have made reservations in hotels in Pangkalpinang, Central Bangka, Belitung, and East Belitung for their stay from Sunday, March 6 to Wednesday, March 9, according to K.A. Tajuddin, head of the Babel tourist office.

"We are grateful as the TSEs momentum has been able to attract tourists, scientists, and students from throughout the country and the world to visit Babel," he remarked recently.

The TSE, lasting for two minutes and 10 seconds, will be visible in Belitung, East Belitung, and Central Bangka at 6 a.m. local time and on Belitung Island at 6:21 a.m. local time.

The local inhabitants have also been encouraged to use the momentum to boost their businesses, for instance, by offering their extra rooms as homestay to tourists, selling accessories, and serving traditional food and beverages.

Furthermore, Central Sulawesi Province is expecting at least 10 thousand foreign tourists to arrive for the TSE, according to the provinces Governor Longki Djanggola.

They will be staying in Poso, Sigi, Palu, Parigi Moutong, Donggala or Tojo Unauna, which are among the paths of the eclipse.

Sigi District, for instance, has received hotel reservations for some five thousand foreign tourists.

Balikpapan City in East Kalimantan will welcome the natural phenomenon by organizing various cultural attractions to entertain tourists, Oemy Facesli, head of the Balikpapan tourism office, said on Feb. 27.

On the beach, there will be competitions of decorated traditional and dragon boats and a beach party offering local culinary and beverages.

Some 85 percent of hotel rooms in Balikpapan have been reserved, particularly from March 8 to March 10, 2016, he said.

In South Sumatra, the total solar eclipse will be visible in eight cities - Palembang, Lubuklinggau, Rupit, Muarabeliti, Talang Ubi, Sekayu, Pangkalanbalai, and Indralaya.

Chairman of the South Sumatra Association of Hotel and Restaurant Businessmen (PHRI) Herlan Aspiudin stated that hundreds of hotel rooms in Palembang had been booked by tourists from 12 countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, France, Britain, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, and the United States.

The province will organize among other things a glowing night run, a supernatural community ritual, cultural performances, an international photography festival, a 30-meter-long barongsai show and an educational tour for students, organized jointly with the National Institute of Aeronautics and Space (LAPAN).

The head of the South Sumatra Tourism and Cultural Office, Irene Camelyn Sinaga, has said the tourism office will also facilitate guests and take them to certain locations specially designated to watch the total solar eclipse.

The citys icon, Ampera Bridge, will remain closed for public vehicles on the day of the eclipse, facilitating the pedestrians to observe the total solar eclipse from the vantage point on the bridge freely and clearly.

Tourism Minister Arief Yahya has praised the governors who have intensified tourism promotion to attract tourists to witness the eclipse.

"Tour and travel agents and managers have also demonstrated good creativity, by offering various travel packages during the total solar eclipse," the minister remarked recently.

The Indonesian government hopes to generate foreign exchange amounting to Rp172 trillion from 12 million foreign tourist arrivals and Rp223.6 trillion from 260 million domestic tourists this year.(*)

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