Numerous tourism supporting facilities such as Matahora airport passenger terminal, a marina, a pier, hotels and restaurants are being developed in Wakatobi to attract more local and foreign tourists.
In addition, two international companies are currently developing five-star rated hotels in the district as the number of tourist arrivals continues to increase.
Tourist arrivals in Wakatobi have been increasing after the development of Matashora airport. In 2015, some 17 thousand domestic and foreign tourists visited the district.
When the construction of the airport began in 2009, the number of tourists was about 3,000 per year, but last year it reached 17 thousand and is expected to reach 30 thousand this year following the completion of the Matahora airport passenger terminal.
Tourism Minister Arif Yahya and Transportation Minister Ignasius Jonan were in Wakatobi on Sunday to inaugurate the passenger terminal of Matahora airport on Wangi-Wangi Island in Wakatobi District.
Matahora airport has a two thousand-meter-long runway and is expected to boost the nations tourism industry, especially in Wakatobi District.
Plans are also afoot to extend the runway of the Matahora airport to 2.5 thousand meters to accommodate wide bodied aircraft, and to expand the apron area to facilitate the parking of aircraft.
The airports terminal has been developed to meet international standards so that passengers would enjoy comfortable waiting rooms
Wakatobi district government will continue to focus on developing tourism because the sector has a big potential to improve the welfare of the local people, and even of the Indonesian people as a whole.
Currently, airline companies that serve the routes to Wakatobi are Wings Air and Avia Star. Wings Air has a flight to Matahora airport every day, while the Avia Star, with a capacity of 12 seats, serves the airport once a week.
Therefore, Tourim Minister Arif Yahya has urged the government to start flights on the Jakarta-Wakatobi and Jakarta-Denpasar-Wakatobi routes as soon as possible.
"Wakatobi has been established as one of the ten major tourist destinations in Indonesia, and therefore, the government is expected to open regular scheduled flight services connecting Jakarta to Wakatobi and Jakarta-Denpasar-Wakatobi," the minister remarked in the Wakatobi district town of Wangi-Wangi.
Further, he affirmed that the central and local governments as well as the local community should support the establishment of Wakatobi as one of the ten major tourist destinations in the country.
Yahyas call for the establishment of a network of inter-regional flights was necessary to support tourist visits to Wakatobi and other destinations in Indonesia.
Scheduled flight services on the Jakarta-Wakatobi and Jakarta-Denpasar-Wakatobi routes are important to ensure the mobilization of travelers from one area to another.
In the meantime, Wakatobi District Head Hugua stated that the facilities at Matahora airport in Wakatobi met the required standards to serve regular flights.
The Indonesian government has identified Wakatobi as a highly potential tourism destination in the country, and the district is eligible for both promotional and development support funding.
In recent years, Wakatobis popularity, as a world-class diving destination, has increased, resulting in a stronger demand for a direct air link from Jakarta and Bali.
Wakatobi is known for having the highest number of reefs and fish species in the world.
The islands are also famous as the largest barrier reef in Indonesia, second only to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
The park is believed to have 942 species of fish and 750 species of coral. A total of 850 coral species are found across the world.
It also has fringing, atolls, and barrier reefs and offers more than 50 scenic dive sites that are easily accessible from the major islands.
It is the habitat of large and small fish species and the playground of dolphins, turtles and even whales.
The island group comprises 143 larger and smaller islands, with only seven of them inhabited by a total population of around 100 thousand. All others remain uninhabited.
Besides, the waters at Hoga island in Wakatobi district have magnificent diving facilities, inviting tourist from around the world to go diving and enjoy underwater natural beauty of various coral reefs and marine biota around the island.
They can undeniably have a great opportunity to go diving in the superb diving sites and the most pristine reefs at Wakatobi Diving Resort.
Wakatobi is one of the protected marine national parks in Indonesia.
In the Wakatobi Diving Resort, there are a lot of beautiful diving sites with incredibly colorful marine diversity which could be accessed easily.
Known for its built-in beach and a house reef just twenty meters from the dive center, Wakatobi attracts many professional divers from around the world who want to go diving there.
The Wakatobi Diving Resort is surrounded by stunning and pristine drop-offs, walls and slopes to ridges, caverns, caves and sea-mounts.
"Here at Wakatobi, the beauty of the marine life is waiting to be discovered and explored by the Sail Wakatobi-Belitung participants," according to Wakatobi District Head Hugua.
Besides, Wakatobi Diving Resort is also offering premier and luxurious accommodation with modern comforts to tourist divers and guests in Bungalows, Garden Bungalows, Beach Bungalows, and Cliff Villas.
There are still many beautiful diving sites with pristine reefs, stunning colorful corals and tropical marine life that are in remote sites and not accessible from the Wakatobi Diving Resort that are waiting to be explored and discovered.(*)