"The travel association of Bengkulu is promoting the provinces tourism attractions in the Saudi Arabian and Middle Eastern markets," Chairperson of the Travel Association of Bengkulu Kurnia Lesandri stated during a telephonic conversation here on Monday.
During the Indonesian Iftar Food Festival held in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Rafflesia Arnoldii, also nicknamed the "corpse flower," was showcased as one of the main tourist attractions in Bengkulu.
The large flower, which emits a strong odor of decaying flesh, is a member of genus Rafflesia, known for producing the largest individual flower on earth.
Rafflesia Arnoldii was officially recognized as a national rare flower, which is endemic to Sumatra Island, especially in its southern regions, such as Bengkulu, Jambi, and South Sumatra.
The rare and fairly hard to locate flower can grow to a diameter of some one meter in the Sumatran forests.
The cabbage-like maroon or magenta buds take several months to bloom, and the flower remain in this state for just a few days.
Middle Eastern tourists are aware of tourism destinations, such as Bali, Lombok, Bogor, Bandung, and Jakarta, Lesandri noted, adding that the festival in Jeddah was used as platform to promote Bengkulus tourism as tourist arrivals from Arab nations to Indonesia were forecast to increase this year.
"This is the right moment as the people in Arabian countries are having holidays since the month of Ramadhan until September," Lesandri remarked.
The official data revealed that the number of Arab tourists visiting Indonesia in 2015 had reached 185 thousand, 45 percent higher compared to that recorded in the previous year.
On an average, a tourist from the Middle East spent some 12-15 days in Indonesia.
(Reporting by Helti Marini Sipayung/Uu.A059/INE/KR-BSR/H-YH)